Windies in semis after scrambled run chase
NAGPUR, India (CMC):
West Indies nearly made a mess of a simple run chase, but recovered in time to pull off a nervy three-wicket win over South Africa with two balls to spare, and romp into the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup here yesterday.
In pursuit of an uncomplicated target of 123 on a slow pitch at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, West Indies were propelled by Man-of-the-Match Marlon Samuels who top-scored with a vital 43 from 44 deliveries while opener Johnson Charles stroked 32 from 35 balls.
The Caribbean side were on top of the game at 66 for two in the 12th over, but lost five wickets for 47 runs in the space of 46 balls, to decline to 113 for seven in the penultimate over.
Starting the final over with nine required for victory, West Indies were left sweating when Carlos Brathwaite (10 not out) was kept scoreless by 20-year-old seamer Kagiso Rabada off the first ball.
However, Brathwaite cleared the ropes at wide long on with the second delivery before a wide and then a single ensured the scores were level with three balls remaining.
Denesh Ramdin, batting at number nine, then steered the fourth delivery and his first to short third man where Hashim Amla dropped a sharp chance jumping high to his right, earning a single to take West Indies to their third straight win and keeping them unbeaten in the tournament.
They sit top of Group One on six points, two clear of second-placed England, who face Sri Lanka - fourth on two points - on Saturday. Sri Lanka are third on two points and an England victory will eliminate them.
Sent in earlier, South Africa were floundering at 47 for five in the ninth over before opener Quinton de Kock top-scored with 47 from 46 deliveries and David Wiese chipped in with 28 from 26 balls, to rescue the innings.
Chris Gayle was the unlikeliest of bowling heroes with his off-spin, claiming two for 17 from his three overs, while seamers Dwayne Bravo (2-20) and Andre Russell (2-28) also chimed in with two wickets apiece.
West Indies struck a key blow off the third ball of the game when Amla (1) gambled on an ill-advised single with de Kock, but failed to beat Russell's throw from point to wicketkeeper Ramdin.
In the next over, captain Faf du Plessis chipped Russell to Sulieman Benn at mid off to fall for nine at 13 for two and when Rilee Roussouw scooped Gayle to Russell at point in the third over to perish without scoring, the Proteas were stumbling badly at 20 for three.
De Kock and de Villiers (10) offered temporary relief in a 26-run fourth wicket stand before Bravo got the breakthrough, bowling de Villiers with a slower ball in the eighth over at 46 for four.
When the dangerous David Miller played back, completely misjudged a Gayle delivery that spun and was bowled, South Africa were tottering in the ninth.
De Kock, who counted three fours and a six, rallied the innings by adding 50 for the sixth wicket with Wiese who benefited from a mis-stumping on three off left-arm spinner Benn in the 11th over, to strike two fours.
The left-handed de Kock eventually perished when he made generous room for a heave through the leg-side and was bowled by Russell in the 16th over.