West Indies v South Africa, 2nd ODI, Antigua May 23, 2010

West Indies seek to bridge the gap

The Preview by Liam Brickhill

Match Facts

Monday, May 24
Start time 0930 (1330 GMT)

The Big Picture

South Africa proved too strong for West Indies once again in the first one-dayer to extend the early success of their tour, with the change in limited-overs format making little difference to the hosts' fortunes. The architects of South Africa's win were Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, both of whom went to centuries and added 129 for the third wicket as the West Indian bowlers failed to make the most of conditions that had plenty to offer the seamers.

"It was a terrific effort," Graeme Smith said after the game. "Hash [Amla] and I got off to a good start and in particular in his partnership with AB - it's always great to see two guys get hundreds and they deserved the hundreds that they got. They played superbly well."

Chris Gayle was understandably disconsolate after yet another patchy effort. But while it is easy to point out where West Indies got things wrong - the failure of their bowlers to land six balls in a row on the spot and the inability of their batsmen to build partnerships - it is less clear just how they can turn things around.

West Indies haven't been helped by injuries to Kemar Roach and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and have called in Dale Richards for the second game. Other than that, they are largely stuck with the squad they have for the moment as other potential replacements for an underperforming batting line-up - such as Devon Smith, Darren Bravo and Brendan Nash - are away on tour with the A side, though it is possible they could be drafted in for the fourth and fifth ODIs. While there is undeniable potential talent in the national squad, and one cannot rule out an improved performance in the second game, it seems more likely that South Africa will maintain the gulf in class between the two sides.

Form guide (only completed matches, most recent first)

South Africa WWLLL
West Indies LWWWW

Watch out for...

David Miller has eased himself into international cricket with minimum fuss - albeit against a bowling attack that is lolling in the doldrums at the moment. His 33 on debut took South Africa to a winning total when they were looking shaky, and his unbeaten 23 in the first ODI also gave his side's scoreline a timely boost. In both games, he came in with overs running out at the end of the innings, but if he is given more time he already appears to have the capacity to make a big score.

For a player who has scored 5,092 runs in limited-overs internationals at an average of more than 44, Ramnaresh Sarwan's performances after his comeback from injury have been disappointing. His captain has made clear his desire for someone in the top order to take the initiative, and after a mediocre start in this series, West Indies desperately need Sarwan back at his stylish best.

Team news

It's unclear what meaningful changes West Indies might be able to make to their side, but they will want Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Kemar Roach back as soon as they have recovered from their injuries. Failing that, they will have to stick to the team that lost the opening game on Saturday, although there seems little point in asking Andre Fletcher to open at the moment and someone from the middle order - Sarwan, perhaps - may need to step up and fill a temporary role.

West Indies (possible): 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 3 Dwayne Bravo, 4 Narsingh Deonarine, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Andre Fletcher, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Jerome Taylor, 10 Nikita Miller, 11 Ravi Rampaul

South Africa struck a winning combination in the first game, and although they have said that now is the time for a fresh outlook in the side, they will more than likely stick to the successful formula.

South Africa (possible): 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers (wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Johan Botha, 8 Ryan McLaren, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Pitch and conditions

The pitch used in the first ODI looked far improved from the mottled, two-paced wicket in the Twenty20s, although there is still something in it for the bowlers. Taking nothing away from Amla and de Villiers' superb efforts, that South Africa reached 280 was in large part due to inconsistent bowling from West Indies. Unfortunately, there's a good chance that this game may be affected by the weather, with a high probability of showers in the area.

Stats and trivia

  • AB de Villiers has accumulated 486 runs at an average of 121.5 in his last six ODI innings, with his hundred on Saturday his third in consecutive innings, and his fourth in six innings since he reached 121 in the third ODI of England's winter tour

  • At the opposite end of the spectrum, Andre Fletcher's last innings of note was 48 against Canada in April. Since then, he has made just 55 runs in seven international innings, at an average of 9.17.

    Quotes

    "We want to play well, we want to win the series and we want to have a very successful tour of the West Indies."
    So far, Graeme Smith's men have had little trouble achieving their goals.

    "We need someone out of the top five to take the initiative."
    It may be stating the obvious, but Chris Gayle's batsmen should know what is expected of them by now.

    Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPN Cricinfo

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