South Africa were blown away by eight wickets in the first of five T20 Internationals against the West Indies at the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada on Saturday.
Having lost the toss and being asked to bat first, the Proteas struggled to 160 for six, thanks mainly to an unbeaten 56 from Rassie van der Dussen while left-arm spinner, Fabian Allen, claimed career-best figures of 2-18 in his four overs.
The target of 161 was but a drop in the ocean for the home side with left-handed opener Evin Lewis smashing his way to a 35-ball 71 as the West Indies cracked 15 sixes in total, reaching 161 for two with still a massive 30 deliveries remaining.
“We were outplayed. Especially in the batting department,” said Temba Bavuma in the post-match press conference.
“Our total was below par. We struggled to adapt to the conditionsand we could not capitalise on the start that we made,” adding the Proteas skipper.
Man of the match Lewis was imperious at the top of the order, cracking four boundaries and seven massive sixes while sharing in an opening stand of 85 from just 44 deliveries with Andre Fletcher, who himself struck three fours and two maximums from 19 balls before being run out at the non-striker’s ends by a direct throw from Lungi Ngidi at short fine leg for 30.
“We knew it would test our skills against one of best teams in world, so it was not a surprise,” said Bavuma.
But Fletcher’s departure did not stop the carnage as Chris Gayle (32 not out) and Andre Russell (23 not out) smashed 37 unbeaten runs off 20 balls for the third wicket to take their side comfortably home. Gayle, coming in at the fall of Fletcher’s wicket, struck one four and cracked three sixes, as did Russell. Gayle faced 24 deliveries while Russell faced just 12.
Only Tabraiz Shamsi could hold his head high, claiming the wicket of Lewis, caught by David Miller on the long-off boundary, for 27 runs in his four overs. The run out of Fletcher, also came from the bowling of Shamsi’s bowling. George Linde bowled just two overs but was smashed for 24 runs while Kagiso Rabada (3-0-32-0) and Ngidi (3-0-46-0) were treated with absolute disdain.
“You go to what you know. We had two quicks in support of Lungi, and we saw that that was what the conditions dictated. But we have to adapt to the conditions,” said Bavuma.
“Our bowlers didn’t let us down, but I think that we have to improve in all areas tomorrow. I think a sixth bowler has been a bit of a concern for us. Reeza did have an over for us today and it is part of the conversations we’re having,” stated the skipper.
“Our composition is a tricky one at the moment,” said Bavuma.
Earlier, Quinton de Kock (37) and Reeza Hendricks (17) had given the Proteas a good start with an opening stand of 33 from 24 balls but Allen’s introduction brought about the wicket of Hendricks, who danced down the wicket and was bowled through the gate.
Hendricks struck two boundaries and a six from 11 balls while De Kock, who faced 24 balls with two fours and two maximums, was caught at mid-on by Jason Holder off the bowling of Russell (3-0-29-1). As Bavuma (22) and Van der Dussen tried to continue the start given to them, rain brought a halt to proceedings twice.
South Africa could not continue with the momentum and lost wickets regularly, first Bavuma was caught in the deep off Allen’s bowling before Heinrich Klaasen (7), Miller (9) and Linde (0) all fell cheaply. Rabada snuck in one streaky four between the keeper and slip to end unbeaten on six but the 160-run total was just now where near enough – especially considering the mood the home side’s batting were in.
The teams tackle each other again at the same venue tomorrow.
“Considering that we have no real time to change much before tomorrow’s game, we will just have to execute our game plans better. It has to be a mental point of view,” ended Bavuma.