To the victor the spoils – South Africa celebrate a West Indies

It has been a decade since South Africa’s miscalculation of Duckworth-Lewis saw them exit the World Cup in the first round.

Finally, they will consider themselves redeemed.

In a twist of fate today at Cardiff, West Indies exited the ICC Champions Trophy after a rain-affected tied match. After 26.1 overs, with six wickets down, they needed 191 runs to win the match. They left the field on 190 for 6 as the drizzle drifted down. The result awarded a point to each side and South Africa progressed to the semi-finals by virtue of the tied result and the better net run rate with which they had entered the game.

If ever one ball was wholly decisive for the outcome of a match, this was it. Middle-order batsman Kieron Pollard was dismissed off the first ball of the 27th over when he threw his bat wildly at a Ryan McLaren short ball, and was caught at third man by fast bowler Dale Steyn. Had Pollard not been dismissed, West Indies would have won the match because they were ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis par score for five wickets down at the time.

Set an initial target of 231 in 31 overs, West Indies top-order led by Chris Gayle, Devon Smith and Marlon Samuels in particular were guiding the Windies to victory before the rain and Pollard’s dismissal intervened. South Africa now advance to the semi-finals with their zone leaders India who will play Pakistan tomorrow in a match of academic interest.

South Africa opener Colin Ingram had earlier led the way with 73 after the rain cleared at the ground to allow the reduced-overs match to get under way.

The left-hander hit six fours and two sixes in his 63-ball effort and received good support from opening partner Hashim Amla (23) and skipper AB de Villiers (37) during stands worth 80 and 44 for the first and second wickets respectively.

Ingram was caught in the deep by Darren Bravo off Pollard’s bowling after going for a big heave into the leg side but Faf du Plessis (35) and David Miller (38) ensured there was no let up in the closing overs of the innings.

After the early wicket of Johnson Charles for 16, caught by de Villiers off Steyn, Gayle (36) and Devon Smith (30) put West Indies on course before a middle-order stutter that saw them reduced to 104-4 in the 18th over.

Hope alive

But Samuels, the star of their ICC Twenty20 Championship victory last year, revived West Indies’ hopes either side of a brief rain delay in which no further overs were lost.

With dark clouds looming, Samuels dispatched six fours and two sixes to get West Indies ahead on the Duckworth Lewis par score.

But Steyn (2-33) removed Samuels’ middle stump to end his 38-ball 48 and Pollard’s exit three overs later for 28 sealed West Indies’ fate.

Darren Sammy came out to join skipper Dwayne Bravo in the middle but by now the rain was falling heavily, leaving umpires Steve Davis and Rod Tucker no option but to take the players off and end the game.

West Indies coach Ottis Gibson and other members of the team watched from the balcony with glum faces as the teams trekked off the field knowing that they had been beaten by a foe over whom they had no control. But for South Africa, it was sweet victory after finishing on the losing side in several similar situations.

“We have been on the losing side a couple of times in these situations. I feel bad for the West Indies. This will give us a lot of momentum for the semi-finals. The D/L par score was at the back of my mind and it was drizzling for a long time. The ball was wet and it was difficult to grip it. We were calm under pressure situations. The batsmen performed well but the West Indies line-up is very dangerous. They showed it at the end when they ran us close. Steyn bowled well and I am glad he held onto that catch,” de Villiers said afterwards

Though disappointed by the heartbreaking turn of events, Bravo was gracious in defeat.

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