Langeveldt hat-trick steals the glory
South Africa 284 for 6 (Dippenaar 123, Kallis 87) beat West Indies 283 (Gayle 132, Langeveldt 5-62) by 1 run
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Charl Langeveldt produced one of the most sensational finales in one-day international history, as he plucked a hat-trick out of thin air to steal a one-run victory over West Indies. His performance secured an unassailable 3-0 lead for South Africa, who now travel to Trinidad with both the Test and one-day trophies tucked into their hand-luggage.
They will be laughing about this victory all the way to Port-of-Spain, because with two overs of the match remaining, West Indies had seemed home and hosed. A brilliantly measured century from Chris Gayle had carried them to within 27 runs of victory, and by the time Courtney Browne and Dwayne Bravo had reduced that requirement to just 10 runs from 12 deliveries with four wickets in hand, they seemed to have the match in the bag.
But, as the tempers on both sides began to fray, so too did West Indies' resolve. Browne was caught off the leading edge to give Makhaya Ntini a wicket with the final ball of his spell, meaning that Langeveldt began the final over with four runs to defend and three wickets still standing.
Ian Bradshaw and Bravo traded singles off the first two balls, although Bravo's was so rash that he might have been run out by a mile had Ashwell Prince's shy from midwicket been more accurate. If that was an indicator of West Indies' nerves, then they were set jangling one ball later, when Bradshaw was bowled all ends up, aiming a rash swing at a perfect top-of-off-stump delivery.
Daren Powell, helmetless but visibly nervous, strode to the crease with two runs needed from three balls, and was swiftly sent on his way in an identical fashion, as Langeveldt soaked up the pressure and turned it all on his opponents. The equation had been reduced to two runs from two balls, but there was no longer any doubt who was in control, and when the hat-trick delivery curved wickedly late to thud into Corey Collymore's pads, Langeveldt didn't even bother to turn around and appeal.
At the post-match presentations, West Indies were as sick as the stray dog that had wandered onto the pitch and held up play midway through the West Indian innings. And little wonder. This is Kensington Oval's final one-day match before it is ripped up to make way for a new stadium ahead of the 2007 World Cup, and they must have wanted the diggers to chug in and start work as soon as possible. Victory here would have kept the series very much alive at 2-1 with two to play. Instead, as ever these days, there is only pride to play for.
Until Langeveldt's late intervention, the main men of South Africa's day had been Boeta Dippenaar and Jacques Kallis, whose 194-run partnership had set the platform for an imposing, but far from unassailable, total of 284 for 6. Dippenaar top-scored with 123, his second and highest one-day century, which took his tally for the series to 239 runs from three innings and left AB de Villiers wondering where his next opportunity will come from.
But it was Kallis's innings that will really rankle with the West Indians. Moments after Dwayne Smith had produced a sensational catch at gully to remove Graeme Smith (43 for 1), Kallis appeared to have been caught-behind for a third-ball duck, as Bradshaw found his edge with a perfect-length delivery. The umpire, Darrell Hair, however, thought otherwise and with that reprieve under his belt, Kallis's response was utterly typical.
Two overs later, Kallis launched Bradshaw for six - just to remind him who's boss - but for the most part he was content to knuckle down and jog the singles, as he and Dippenaar cherry-picked a demoralised West Indian attack and laid the foundations for a sizeable total. Dippenaar brought up his century from 110 balls, with 10 measured fours, and when Powell made a dreadful hash of a steepling chance at mid-on, Kallis's own hundred seemed only a matter of time.
But West Indies forced their way back into the reckoning, firstly thanks to a composed seven-over spell at the death from Bravo, who ensured South Africa's total was some 20 runs below their expectations, and then thanks to Gayle's masterful performance at the top of the order. For once, he did not put a premium on big strokes, and by the time he had reached his hundred from a leisurely 123 balls, he had struck just six fours and one (albeit vast) six.
But though West Indies were well-placed, they couldn't help but fritter away their wickets. Chanderpaul played an ungainly shovel to backward square-leg, Smith heaved too eagerly at Andre Nel, and even Gayle was culpable of one shot too many, when singles were the order of the day. But until Langeveldt's stunning intervention, not even the biggest pessimists in the Caribbean could have believed this one would get away.
Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Cricinfo