W Indies v S Africa, Under-19 World Cup Group B February 10, 2006

Windies waltz as South Africa stumble

West Indies 218 for 3 (Johnson 83) beat South Africa 213 (Daneel 90) by seven wickets

West Indies opening bowler Kemar Roach in action © ICC
West Indies secured their spot in the Super League as Leon Johnson, the captain, and Jason Mohammad struck stylish half-centuries with some of the more impressive batting in the tournament to date. Their stand of 148 enabled West Indies to overcome a rocky start, after South Africa had scraped their way to 213 on the back of Pieter Daneel's defiant 90.

South Africa's total was short of par, but not as light as West Indies made it appear by cantering home with almost seven overs to spare. Chris Alexander's mixed-bag of an opening over produced an inside-edge for four, a top-edge for six and the wicket of William Jenkins. When Wayne Parnell trapped Andre Fletcher lbw, leaving West Indies on 17 for 2 in the fourth over, it was certainly game on.

However, South Africa's bowling attack does not have much depth - as was harshly exposed when Australia racked up 316 on the opening day of the tournament - and once the new ball was negotiated Johnson and Mohammad began to increase the tempo. Dean Elgar followed the tried-and-tested method of introducing spin early, but there was no pressure on the batsmen to attempt anything outrageous. South Africa did have a chance to remove Johnson on 49 but Craig Kieswetter fluffed the chance behind the stumps.

Elgar gambled and saved up his second Powerplay for later in the innings, but when he took it Johnson and Mohammad unleashed a calculated assault to speed their side towards victory. Both batsmen flicked effortless fours through the leg side, while Mohammad also peppered the straight boundaries with some powerful drives. That Caribbean flourish certainly lives on in this team.

Johnson, fresh from his 83, hailed his side's allround display: "We felt under pressure coming into the game. We did well to restrict them to 213, they have a good batting line-up. It was a good track and then we just applied ourselves well at the crease. We've been working very hard on our batting because in some of our preparation it perhaps wasn't that good, but that hard work is paying off."

South Africa struggled to find the boundaries and apart from the nine struck between the openers, Symes and Daneel, they managed just five fours and a six. A torrential tropical downpour struck Colombo yesterday evening, resulting in a 30-minute delay to the start, and the damp outfield meant batting targets needed to be revised downwards.

South Africa, though, had been given a sound start with a stand of 64 in 14 overs. West Indies were sharp in the field, with Gajanand Singh holding a stunning catch on the deep square-leg boundary to remove Levi at a vital time. The total was a healthy 109 for 1 before Singh flung himself parallel to the ground, holding the catch one-handed. Three overs later it was 115 for 4 and the innings needed some serious stabilising.

Daneel's innings was a fine example of concentration and application as he held the order together. He also had to overcome a serious bout of cramp, which resulted in him collapsing in pain after completing a quick single. After some rapid treatment from the physio he was able to continue with a runner but struggled to find the boundary.

Following the match Elgar said: "Maybe he should have asked for a runner earlier, then we might have got an extra 30 runs, but I'm not blaming him, it is the rest of the batsmen."

Elgar knows South Africa haven't performed well so far, as they now head into the Plate tournament, and added: "We don't want to be losing to the lower teams, because then we really will be going home with our tails between our legs." Johnson, however, summed it up in a typically West Indian way when asked about the quarter-final against India: "We just have to go and play cricket, and the rest will happen."

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo