West Indies v South Africa, 1st T20, Antigua May 19, 2010

South Africa grab 13-run win in tour opener

The Bulletin by Liam Brickhill

South Africa 136 for 7 (Kallis 53, Pollard 2-22) beat West Indies 123 (Pollard 27, McLaren 5-19) by 13 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Jacques Kallis's 45-ball 53 set up South Africa's total of 136 for 7, and Ryan McLaren was gifted a five-wicket haul as West Indies sank to a 13-run defeat in the first Twenty20 at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium at North Sound. Coming in after the early dismissal of Loots Bosman, Kallis struck three sixes in his innings to take South Africa to 136 for 7 in trying batting conditions. West Indies' chase never really got going, and they were always behind the asking rate after Chris Gayle fell early, losing wickets at regular intervals thereafter.

Indeed, there was a certain staleness to proceedings with the match coming so soon after the World Twenty20 in the West Indies, and it showed in the low-intensity, sloppy performance from both sides. Add to that the abject quality of the umpiring, and the low attendance at the ground, and one was left with a distinct sense of disappointment at an international engagement that, at times, bordered on the embarrassing.

Bosman's departure set an early tone for proceedings, as he gave himself out caught down the leg side in the third over, to what the umpire had decided was a wide. For those who see walking as something to be celebrated, it was a pleasing sight, but it set a farcical tone which never really picked up.

On a tacky pitch Graeme Smith never quite found his range, unable to time his leg-side swats off the wily Sulieman Benn and eventually he too fell in peculiar circumstances - wrongly giving himself out stumped. The shot itself wasn't great, with Smith attempting a reverse-sweep off Nikita Miller's first ball, overbalancing and allowing the impressive Andre Fletcher to whip off the bails.

Smith picked himself up and strode off, only to find his dressing room urging him to turn back. Replays showed the bails had been removed with Smith's heel still grounded but, having reached the boundary edge, there was little Smith could do but smile and trudge off. It was odd to see such a fierce competitor grinning at his self-inflicted downfall, but seemed apt given the low-profile feel to the game.

Kallis continued to swish sixes and mis-time singles, reaching what, in the circumstances, was an excellent 50 off 41 balls and looked set to take the game away from West Indies when an uppish pull hit a strong headwind and left him caught on the square-leg boundary.

In between time the ball would occasionally pitch and fly from just back of a length, but the pitch had settled out somewhat by the time West Indies began their chase. South Africa opted to open the bowling with Roelof van der Merwe but Gayle was immediately into an attacking stride, stroking two powerful shots down the ground on either side of the bowler in the first over.

Fletcher continued his batting struggles at international level, however, pushing leaden-footed at a length delivery outside off stump from McLaren, only to send an edge through to AB de Villiers, who took a smart catch tumbling to his right. Despite the early wicket, when Dwayne Bravo thumped a brace of confident leg-side boundaries it looked as though West Indies would make a fist of their chase in trying conditions, but when Gayle spooned a McLaren cutter to Smith at deep mid-on, the home side began to struggle.

Bravo and Ramnaresh Sarwan aimed for the gaps and ran hard, but boundaries were hard to come by and the asking rate quickly began to climb. Feeling the pressure, Bravo tried to break the shackles with a heave down the ground but could only get as far as Hashim Amla, the substitute fielder, at long on. His dismissal sparked something of a collapse, as Narsingh Deonarine was stumped off a leg-side wide and, five balls later, Sarwan chipped an easy catch to Alviro Petersen at cover off a leading edge.

Darren Sammy and Kieron Pollard briefly re-grouped before starting to play their shots, and when Pollard took two fours from a Charl Langeveldt over and then crunched McLaren straight back over his head for six it seemed West Indies might have enough left in the tank for a late charge. But McLaren got his revenge immediately afterwards, as Pollard played all round a full, swinging delivery that made a mess of his stumps.

The match came to a bizarre end as, in the penultimate over, Dale Steyn sent down four wides and a no-ball, Jerome Taylor was run out as he attempted to sneak a bye and both batsmen ended up at the same end, and Benn was given not out after he had sent a clear, thick edge through to de Villiers. McLaren dismissed Benn to wrap up the innings with a ball to spare to claim his fifth wicket, but one can only hope for a better performance from everyone concerned in tomorrow's game.

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