Rossouw stars in close SA win
South Africa U-19s 223 for 7 (Rossouw 58*, Brooks 4-42) beat
West Indies U-19s 222 for 8 (Powell 53, Devon Thomas 53, Parnell
3-37, Pienaar 3-36) by three wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
Group B in the Under-19 World Cup is the clichéd 'group of death' because it includes three teams from Test-playing nations but South Africa took a giant step towards qualifying for the Super League quarter-finals by beating West Indies in their tournament opener at the Kinrara Oval. They faced a couple of challenging periods with both ball and bat - West Indies raced off at the start, and South Africa suffered a lower middle-order collapse but they hung on to secure a three-wicket win.
A target of 223 was always within reach even after Pieter Malan was trapped lbw by Jason Dawes in the first over: aggressive innings' from JJ Smuts and Jonathan Vandiar, and Reeza Hendricks' steady 36 kept the run-chase on course. However, the West Indies captain Sharmarh Brooks ran through the lower-middle order with his leg-breaks, reducing South Africa from 149 for 3 to 179 for 7. Rilee Rossouw, a left-hand middle-order batsman, stopped the choke with a composed 58 and steered South Africa toward the target with six overs to spare.
The South Africans faced their first hurdle right at the start of the match. West Indies got to a rapid start with their openers, Kieran Powell and Adrian Barath, who resemble an U-19 version of Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul in terms of size, adding 65 in ten overs. However, their captain, Wayne Parnell, who bowls left-arm fast, struck twice in one over to pull things back. South Africa's seamers took six wickets for 68 runs and shifted the momentum away from West Indies.
Parnell said after the victory that their fightback with the ball was the turning point. "We stayed patient when West Indies came out hard," he said. "If he's [Powell] hitting our bowlers off their lengths there's not much we can do. We stuck to our task and tried to bowl dots. They were looking to score 300 plus but we bowled well."
Powell, a 17-year-old left-handed batsman, is quickly building a reputation for himself as a hitter. As a 15-year old playing for Nevis, he smashed his first ball in the Stanford 20/20 80 yards into a swimming pool. During a World Cup warm-up game against Australia, he muscled his way to a match-winning 51, and he dug into the South African attack in much the same way. He pounced on anything short, pulling the new-ball bowler Matthew Arnold over midwicket in his first over, and drove through the line whenever the length allowed it. He did not bother keeping the ball along the ground, backing himself to clear the infield each time.
Parnell was one bowler who managed to restrict Powell. He swung the ball away from the left-hander and bowled a line close to the stumps, not allowing Powell any room. He struck with the first ball of the second Powerplay, inducing an edge from Barath to the wicketkeeper Bradley Barnes, and took a return catch off Steven Jacobs to make it two for the over.
Brooks has played for Barbados and hails from Holders Hill, a locality that produced cricketers such as Desmond Haynes, Phillo Wallace, Franklyn Stephenson, Hartley Alleyne and Courtney Browne. However, he too could not consolidate on West Indies' strong start and, on 7, sliced Adams to point.
The period that followed brought South Africa back strongly into the match. Barnes stood up to the stumps as the medium-pacers - Obus Pienaar, Roy Adams and Pieter Malan - bowled a restrictive line and length. Pienaar picked up the crucial wicket of Powell, when he tried to clear long-off but didn't get the necessary elevation. Powell, incidentally, had also been caught at mid-off during the practice game against Australia. Pienaar and Parnell struck in successive overs towards the death and punctured the momentum that the Thomases, Shacaya and Devon, who added 78 for the seventh wicket had been gathering for the final surge.
The West Indian fast bowlers - Jason Dawes, Dawnley Grant and Darren Bravo - didn't make much of an impact. The spinners, Veeraswamy Permaul, who bowls left-arm orthodox, and Brooks, however, bowled tightly and forced the South Africans to go after then. Jonathan Vandiar and Rossouw obliged, and played the sweep shot to good effect. However, while Vandiar, Mohammad Vallie and Parnell fell trying to attack Brooks, Rossouw remained steady and finished the job.
South Africa bat deep, all the way down to the wicketkeeper, Barnes, who was the No. 11. Incidentally, Parnell said that he bats at No 4 for his team at home. Their depth was tested by the West Indian spinners, and they barely passed. The Indian spinners await them tomorrow.
George Binoy is a staff writer at Cricinfo