ICC 2021 T20 World Cup: South Africa defeats defending champions West Indies by 8 wickets

South Africa players
South Africa players celebrate a wicket against West Indies

South Africa opened their points tally in the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup as they got their first win of the campaign by defeating defending champions West Indies by 8 wickets.

After winning the toss, the South African skipper Temba Bavuma asked the star-studded Caribbean batting line-up to bat first in Dubai. 

West Indies skipper Keiron Pollard made a single change to the team that fell apart against England as Hayden Walsh Jr. came in for Obed McCoy. The Proteas also made one change to the team that lost against Australia in the tournament opener as star player Quinton de Kock decided to sit out of the match and was replaced by Reeza Hendricks in the playing XI.

West Indies got off to a sluggish start as they scored 6 runs off the first 3 overs with Evin Lewis playing a maiden over against part-time spinner Aiden Markram. Lewis decided to go after the bowlers and smacked 3 maximums and 3 boundaries in the next 3 overs getting West Indies to 43/0 by the end of the powerplay overs.

Simmons was strutting along at the other end and wasting deliveries whilst his opening partner did all the hard work. Lewis got to his half-century in 33 balls with another maximum as the team posted a total of 65/0 at the mid-way mark of the 20-over innings.

After scoring another brilliant maximum in the 11th over, Lewis pulled the ball straight to deep mid-wicket off a Keshav Maharaj delivery. Nicholas Pooran came in at No.3 and tried to continue the onslaught from one with two consecutive boundaries but soon perished to Maharaj as well.

Simmons continued to struggle from the other end and his misery was finally put to rest by Kagiso Rabada as the fast bowler clean bowled him for a score of 16 runs off 35 balls. Chris Gayle and skipper Kieron Pollard built a small partnership together but it ended soon as the Proteas bowlers picked regular wickets in the death overs to break the opposition’s momentum.

Shimron Hetmyer, big-hitter Andre Russell, and all-rounder Dwayne Bravo all came out to bat in the end as Dwayne Pretorious and Anrich Nortje stopped them from scoring big runs towards the end and West Indies settled for a respectable total of 143/8 on an unpredictable Dubai track.

Nortje’s figures of 1/14 in 4 overs suffocated the Windies batting whilst Maharaj’s 2/24 and Kagiso Rabada’s 1/27 helped tighten the noose around their neck. A brilliant spell of 3/17 despite bowling the 18th and the 20th over had Pretorious shining like a knight in the Proteas bowling unit.

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Chasing a total of 144 runs, South Africa lost their skipper Temba Bavuma in the first over to a run-out courtesy of a brilliant direct hit from Russell fielding at mid-on.

Rassie van der Dussen came in at No.3 to anchor the innings whilst opening batsman Reeza Hendricks went about his own way of scoring boundaries and maximums. A 57-run partnership ensued between the pair before Hendricks was dismissed by Akeal Hosein courtesy of a brilliant catch by Hetmyer. Hendricks scored 39 runs off 30 deliveries before walking back to the pavilion paving way for star batsman Markram.

The partnership of Markram and van der Dussen helped the South African team chase down the target with 10 balls to spare. Markram played an unbeaten innings of 51 runs off 26 balls whilst van der Dussen played the anchoring innings of 43 runs off 51 balls with batsmen firing from the other end.

The Bavuma-led side faces Asian giants Sri Lanka and Bangladesh next before coming up against 50-over World Champions England in their last Super 12s match of the tournament.

On the other hand, the chances look bleak for an aging West Indies team to survive in the tournament with matches against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Australia yet to come for them.