Guyana fail to deny South Australia 100% record
South Australia 191 for 6 (Ferguson 55, Borgas 48) beat Guyana 176 for 7 (Sarwan 70, Harris 3-33) by 15 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
South Australia had already strolled into the semi-finals and seemingly had little to gain against the also-rans from Guyana in their final league match, but still benefited as their largely untested middle-order got a thorough and much-needed workout in Johannesburg. Callum Ferguson made a typically intelligent half-century and, with assistance from No. 5 Cameron Borgas, helped South Australia preserve their 100% record in the league phase by powering the Redbacks to their highest total of the tournament.
The other challenge for South Australia was for their bowling attack to manage without the furious pace of the injured Shaun Tait, a test they barely passed after Ramnaresh Sarwan made Guyana's first half-century of the tournament to make the game much less of a mismatch than was initially feared.
It was easily Guyana's best performance of the tournament, troubling South Australia with the new ball and then remaining in the hunt for much of the chase despite facing a mammoth target. In perfect batting conditions, Sarwan exploited the short boundary towards long-off to siphon plenty of runs, and was well supported by the youngsters, Richard Ramdeen and Steven Jacobs, as Guyana asked South Australia's bowlers plenty of questions.
Perhaps Guyana's best phase of the match was the Powerplay after being asked to bowl. Seven deliveries into the innings, South Australia had cracked three boundaries to sprint to 15 but seamer Paul Wintz, who was clobbered by Kieron Pollard on his debut against Mumbai Indians, managed to extract some bounce to remove Daniel Harris and slow the scoring.
Then, the tournament's highest run-getter, Michael Klinger, was undone by a back-of-the-hand delivery from Christopher Barnwell, and holed out to midwicket. In the next over, Wintz served up the ball of the innings - a yorker that speared into Graham Manou's boot and then onto off stump. South Australia were 41 for 3. The lowest contribution by their top three wickets previously in the tournament was 127.
Ferguson and Borgas put on 88 for the fourth wicket with little risk, and set the tone as their side plundered 117 in the final nine overs. Guyana were left to rue what might have been after being on top at the halfway stage of the innings, with their spinners - the architects of their Caribbean T20 triumph - keeping the heavy-hitters of South Australia quiet.
The carnage began in the 14th over when Guyana's fifth bowler Jacobs, an offspinner who doesn't believe in flight, overstepped twice and had one of his two consecutive free-hits smashed over cover by Ferguson for the first six of the innings. One legitimate delivery cost 12 runs, after which there was no reining South Australia in.
Before that, there had been only three boundaries in an eight-over spell when Ferguson and Borgas rebuilt. Despite not offering any threat, Jacobs was given another over - the 17th - which Ferguson and Derwin Christian hammered for 22. Jacobs finished with 3-0-50-0. Two sixes and four fours in the final three overs sent South Australia rocketing to 191. Strangely, Wintz, who was so impressive with the new ball, bowled only three overs.
Just like when they were bowling, Guyana were the more impressive side for more than half the innings when they batted. Their finest batting patch was the 56-run stand between Sarwan and Jacobs. They were together for five overs, each of which was taken for at least ten runs, which meant that at the end of the 12th Guyana were at a solid 106 for 2.
The chase spluttered with the loss of three wickets in four overs, but Sarwan kept fighting. A lovely square drive for four off Gary Putland was followed by a six that just cleared sweeper cover, leaving Guyana needing a stiff, but not impossible, 42 off the final three overs.
Harris had failed with the bat, but he delivered with the ball, removing Derwin Christian and, more importantly, Sarwan in the space of three deliveries in the 18th over. Guyana eventually ended up 15 runs short.
South Australia will be satisfied at coming through a tough battle ahead of the the tournament's biggest games, and relieved at keeping the winning run going, something they failed to do in the final league of the Big Bash campaign after sweeping through the initial stages of that tournament.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo