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May 10, 2001
Different day, same story. It was depressing. It was misery. It was demoralising.
And for the fourth time in succession, West Indian spectators left the arena in disgust, disbelief and despair after the Caribbean side tamely handed over the Cable & Wireless One-Day Trophy at Kensington Oval yesterday.
In a carbon copy of preceding matches, the West Indies made a mountain in trying to set South Africa an inadequate target of 200 and their bowlers were again taken to the sword by the rampaging Herschelle Gibbs.
The 27-year-old right-handed opening batsman unleashed a flurry of impressive strokes in an unbeaten 107 and as the afternoon progressed, the capacity crowd became disenchanted and disinterested over the onesided nature of the match.
In Antigua and Grenada, South Africa completed similar targets for the loss of two wickets with 20-something balls in reserve. Yesterday, they lost an additional wicket, but they wrapped up the no-contest with as many as 58 balls to spare.
West Indies captain Carl Hooper, however, was not as down-spirited as the majority of those who left Kensington with glum faces knowing South Africa had taken an unbeatable 4-1 lead in the seven-match series.
Obviously, it is disappointing, but such is life, Hooper said.
We have to move on and we've got to hold our heads up high, keep working hard and we'll come through.
There was clearly a vast difference between the two sides in the shorter version of the game as South Africa effortlessly marched towards their target.
As I have been saying since the first game, there is no need to feel embarrassed whenever we lose to a team like South Africa, Hooper said.
They are a disciplined, professional bunch and we need to play good cricket for 100 overs to beat them.
We just managed to muster 200 runs which is not enough and we paid the full price. We've got to learn from our mistakes and it's going to be a slow, long and painful process.
The first ten overs of the South African replay produced nine boundaries and Hooper almost exclusively relied on spin afterwards to the extent that rookie fast bowler Kerry Jeremy was never given a single ball.
There was nothing wrong with him, Hooper said.
It's just the way that the game panned out. As it turned out, the opportunity never presented itself to bowl Jeremy.
The wicket gripped and turned a little bit and as a result I thought I'd continue with spin.
Gibbs, who was also awesome in the field, romped to his second century in the series and fifth of his career with the kind of daring aggression that he has displayed whenever he has been at the crease.
Among his 11 fours and three sixes were breathtaking strokes, including the now trademark charge against the fast bowlers.
Boeta Dippenaar, Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis helped him in hastening a victory that was achieved before 4:30 p.m.
Cameron Cuffy and Mervyn Dillon were belted around and even though the off-spin of Hooper and Marlon Samuels was containing at times the result was obvious.
Sent in on an ideal batting strip, the West Indies could not mount a challenging total in spite of Brian Lara's quality 92 off 125 balls. It was spiced with nine fours, including a few fierce pulls, but at no stage could the champion left-hander move into fifth gear because of the regular flow of wickets.
Whenever a partnership appeared to be developing, the South Africans regained the initiative.
Captain Shaun Pollock set the tone as usual with a tight spell at the start and Jacques Kallis despatched the tenth opening combination the West Indies have turned to since last summer's tour of England.
Chris Gayle's askew footwork was his downfall yet again, the lefthander edging an expansive flash to the keeper in a dismissal that was almost mirrored later by his fellow Jamaican Marlon Samuels.
It led many to ask why batsmen with such big reputations continue to be exposed by technical deficiencies.
The one young batsman who is supposed to be well-organised, Daren Ganga, was presumably brought into the team to ensure there was some solidity at the top of the order.
He banged the first ball of the day to the cover boundary and played soundly for the first ten overs.
But, as has become a frustrating habit, whenever he attempts an aggressive stroke he perishes, and this time it was a miscued pull that resulted in a skied catch to the keeper.
It was refreshing to see Lara and Hooper in at No 3 and 4 for the first time in the series and the pair was trying to rebuild the innings when Makhaya Ntini ended a stand of 44 in 11.3 overs with the best ball of the match.
It was a yorker that knocked back Hooper's middle stump and the West Indies captain was gone after another solid start.
After the seventh-ball dismissal of Samuels that left the West Indies 73 for four in the 24th over, Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul had to consolidate things.
They were involved in a stand of 43 in 8.5 overs before Chanderpaul's indecision over a quick single brought his downfall after Gibbs threw down the stumps at cover with a direct hit at the bowler's end.
With overs seemingly ticking over rapidly, the West Indies needed a major boost and there was some hope when Lara and Jacobs were adding 51 in 10.4 overs.
The happy hour had just started, but it lasted only a few minutes.
Jacobs hoisted Ntini over mid-wicket and onto the Greenidge and Haynes Stand for the only six of the innings, but within a few balls he was prised out by a piece of magical brilliance from Gibbs.
Very few people in the stands actually realised that Gibbs had clutched onto a right-handed effort inches off the ground with a fullstretch dive that intercepted a fierce cover-drive.
When Jacobs was out in the 43rd over, Lara was already in the 80s, but he was handicapped by the inability of the tail-enders to preserve their wickets.
In Jeremy's case, he could not even get bat onto ball for four successive deliveries in the 48th over when Lara was on 90.
Jeremy was eventually bowled by Kallis from the first ball of the final over and it left Lara with no choice but to have a slog.
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