Dippenaar seals series whitewash
South Africa 141 for 3 (Dippenaar 61*) beat West Indies 138 for 7 (Bravo 41*) by seven wickets
South Africa showed their experience of 20-over cricket, as they completed a seven-wicket triumph, in the final one-day international to seal a 5-0 series whitewash. Boeta Dippenear finished his run-filled series with an unbeaten 61, as South Africa reached their target of 139 with five balls to spare, after heavy morning rain reduced the match to the minimum number of overs.
Dippenaar earned the man-of-the-series award after scoring 317 runs at 104, not bad for a player who was not originally in the one-day squad, and played in the first game of this series to allow AB de Villiers to rest. He is a far more confident player - with a greater range of strokes - than the character who did more harm than good to the South African middle-order in the Test series against England.
This commanding series win for South Africa means they have now gone 14 ODIs without defeat - a sequence dating back to the 1st ODI against England at Johannesburg in January. Ray Jennings has presided over the turnaround - before he took over South Africa lost 5-0 in Sri Lanka and were knocked out in the first round of the Champions Trophy - but this could be his last match as South Africa's coach. A formal announcement is due on Thursday, however it is widely believed that he won't be retained. At least he will be able to say he has gone out on a high.
South Africa were always in control of their run-chase, especially with the increasingly assured Dippenaar at one end. The asking rate did nudge eight-an-over, with four overs remaining, but a sweetly struck straight six by Dippenaar eased the pressure, and Mark Boucher provided another mature head - something West Indies had been distinctly lacking in their innings.
Only Dwayne Bravo batted with any common sense, and he did his best to guide West Indies to a competitive total, in the closing overs with an unbeaten 41 from 40 balls. He realised that just aimlessly swinging from the hip was not the answer - he had seen has team mates throw away their wickets with that attitude - and made sure West Indies batted out the 20 overs. However, he still dispatched the bad balls and benefited from some handy edged to third-man and fine-leg
West Indies have yet to introduce Twenty20 cricket into their domestic tournament and their inexperience became glaringly obvious after a blistering start from Chris Gayle. Not content with dispatching Andre Nel's first three balls for 14 he scythed to third-man, where Charl Langeveldt took a well judged catch, to start the West Indies slide.
Ramnaresh Sarwan, promoted to open the innings, had played a glorious extra-cover drive for six, but then also got carried away, and was caught at point from a looping outside edge, in Andrew Hall's first over. What 20-over cricket in domestic tournaments has shown is that there is time to build an innings.
However, West Indies still seemed intent on taking as many risks as possible and Shivnarine Chanderpaul was the next to give his wicket away as Shaun Pollock hit the stumps with a throw from mid-off. Brian Lara tried to rebuild the innings, but felt the pressure to keep the runs flowing, and top-edged a rank full-toss from Justin Ontong to short third-man. Dwayne Smith was trapped plumb lbw and Xavier Marshall continued to look completely out of his depth in one-day internationals.
Chasing a small total meant South Africa knew how to pace their innings and there was never the feeling of panic that emitted from the West Indies ranks. de Villiers was still in good touch - despite missing the first three matches of the series - hitting two handsome cover drives and a glorious straight six. It was only the cleanness of his striking that allowed the cut shot, which resulted in his demise, to carry down to Lara at third-man.
Even as the required rate did started to climb Dippenaar and Boucher found the necessary boundaries. When Boucher hit the winning runs he punched the air with a statement of mission accomplished. South Africa have remained unbeaten throughout the tour - a fine performance even against a poor West Indies side.
West Indies, meanwhile, only have two days before they are back in action, against Pakistan in St Vincent, and the news from Pakistan's warm-up match in Antigua won't have improved Chanderpaul's mood. Shahid Afridi hit a century off less than 50 balls. The tough times are set to continue.
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo