The South African bowlers held their nerve and helped South Africa to a 25-run victory in the fifth and final T20 International at the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada on Saturday to clinch the series 3-2.
Temba Bavuma had won the toss and elected to bat first with the visitors posting 168 for four thanks mainly to a record second-wicket stand of 128 between Quinton de Kock (60) and man of the match Aiden Markram (70). In reply, the hosts were looking strong before losing six wickets for just 33 runs to end on 143 for nine, handing the Proteas victory and the series.
“We are very delighted with the win. It was an incredible effort from the boys, there was some hard cricket out there and we were put under some serious pressure. But we have to commend ourselves to bounce back the way we did,” said the South African captain at the post-match press conference.
“It is big. A lot of people wrote us off before this series. After first game we didn’t play well, but we learnt from that and then won next two games. We played a good solid game today. We can take confidence from this win,” said Proteas coach Mark Boucher.
The South African bowling attack were under some serious pressure with opener Evin Lewis (52) carting the ball to all parts of the stadium, with the left-hander clubbing five fours and three sixes from just 34 balls.
“This win can only boost our confidence as a team, we have not won many series away from home. We believe that we can adapt to any conditions,” stated Bavuma.
However, once Lungi Ngidi (4-0-32-3) finally nabbed him, caught on the long-on fence by Markram, the home side started to fall apart. Shimron Hetmyer (33) and captain Kieron Pollard (14) just started to pick up the pace with some lusty blows, especially from the bowling of George Linde (3-0-34-1).
“We are fortunate with our spinners that can bowl with the new ball and then hold the game up later on,” said Bavuma.
However, a hamstring injury to the West Indian captain, put pressure on the team before Wian Mulder (4-0-31-2) picked up two wickets in as many balls, first having Pollard caught by Markram on the boundary and then Andre Russell driving the next ball to Ngidi at point.
Ngidi then dismissed Hetmyer, who had faced 31 balls with one four and two sixes, caught by David Miller on the long-on fence. Kagiso Rabada (4-0-24-2) then all but put paid to the result, grabbing the wickets of Nicholas Pooran (20) and Dwayne Bravo (1) in consecutive balls to leave the home side on 140 for eight, still needing 29 runs from nine balls.
“I believe things are gelling well. We had to come through every day with our skill and the guys have put their hands up. We have made some big strides and we just have to keep winning those small moments,” said Bavuma.
Ngidi then wrapped up the innings, with the wicket of Obed McCoy (1) and only conceding one run in the final over of the match. However, the early pressure was built around man of the series Tabraiz Shamsi, with the left-arm spinner claiming 1-11 in his four overs.
“The biggest thing for me is that we took away a lot of knowledge. The conditions are not the same as we have in South Africa. We have to be skilful and have to be smart. We used the lessons from each game knowing that we had to be smart and you saw that in our bowling today,” said Boucher.
Earlier, De Kock and Markram had built a solid foundation with a wonderful stand that came off only 89 deliveries after the early loss of Bavuma (0), caught by Chris Gayle at first slip from the bowling of Fidel Edwards (3-0-19-2).
But as has been the problem throughout the series, the Proteas were unable to build further on the solid start provided by the top-order as the visitors managed just 56 runs in eight overs after having raced to 112 after 12 overs.
De Kock, who registered his third consecutive half-century, faced just 42 balls and struck four boundaries and two sixes while Markram struck three fours and four maximums from 48 deliveries.
Once De Kock was caught at long-on by Russell from the bowling of Edwards, and Markram, caught by Lendl Simmons on the square leg fence from the bowling of McCoy (4-0-31-1), the Proteas struggled and lost momentum.
Rassie van der Dussen (1) chipped a ball straight back to Bravo (4-0-28-1) while Miller (18 not out) and Mulder (nine not out) could only manage two boundaries at the back-end of the innings, leaving the Proteas some 20 runs short of where they would have wanted to be.
“There are questions around why we can’t score runs at the back-end of the innings but you have to look at the bowlers we were facing. Some of the guys are not in form but to win a series like this means we must be doing something right,” ended Boucher.
However, the bowling performance from Shamsi, Rabada, Ngidi and Mulder proved to be the difference as the South Africans defeated the defending T20 World Champions on their own soil and will hopefully look to build further leading up to the T20 World Cup later this year.
“The West Indies are still favourites for World Cup later this year,” ended Bavuma.
**As first published on Supersport.com