Sorry West Indies a distant second best
Once Graeme Smith and JP Duminy had steered South Africa to 255 for 9, West Indies seemed to throw in the towel and even the TV commentators, usually the last to admit when a game has reached the pointless tediousness stage, were calling it way before the end. The final third of the match was utterly uncompetitive, and it was only that the bulk of the 17,500 crowd were happy with watching their side thump a substandard opposition that the old ground wasn't empty long before the finish.
On this performance it is hard to see how West Indies can get back into a series they are already two down in with three to play. They were a bowler and a half light, their batting was flimsy and their fielding again let them down under pressure. As if things couldn't get worse, already without Chris Gayle they now face losing Shivnarine Chanderpaul who was reduced to a hobble by an unspecified leg injury.
It had all started so promisingly. Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor forced South Africa, who had won the toss, on the back foot in a lively opening spell, with Taylor making the early inroads. Herschelle Gibbs, a shadow of the one-day bully he once was, again fell early, nibbling at one with minimal footwork, and then Jacques Kallis drove loosely on the walk and spooned the ball to mid-off. Five overs in, South Africa were 18 for 2.
The remainder of the first Powerplay was all caution from Smith and AB de Villiers, but the innings turned on its head with the introduction of the insipid Rampaul. Bravo immediately brought back Edwards but the horse had bolted. West Indies suddenly looked messy in the field, and the bowlers offered too many bad balls which both batsmen invariably pounced on, de Villiers in particular hammering high and hard through midwicket.
The brakes were applied by the unlikeliest of combinations, Marlon Samuels and Sewnarine Chattergoon, the latter the most occasional of part-time bowlers. Neither did much with the ball, but both concentrated on putting it there or thereabouts and at a time when the innings should have been accelerating, it spluttered and almost stalled.
South Africa didn't accelerate in the final overs. Smith perished 14 short of a deserved hundred to the tamest of shots, and Duminy continued to play the kind of knock that he had a week ago, not flashy but keeping the runs coming and giving the innings rigidity. Had someone been able to stay with him a bit longer then South Africa would have made a total nearer 300, but as it was all the lower middle-order mustered were cameos. Taylor benefited, adding two late wickets to his earlier successes to finish with 4 for 34.
The way Duminy perished - run out trying to sneak a bye to a ball he missed - was undeserved, but he had done all that was asked of him. The innings subsided in an over of three wickets, two of which were run outs, and one run but South Africa appeared to have done enough.
They had, and some. The West Indies innings never got going, spluttering along as if run rate was not an issue. Chattergoon tried to get things moving but nobody else showed much enthusiasm for the task. At one stage there was a 19-over spell - more than 90 minutes - when not one boundary was scored ... and it wasn't as if they were even trying to hit the ball. It was cricket but it was not entertainment, and John Dyson, their new coach, must be wondering quite what he had got himself into.
Credit must be given to South Africa's bowlers who applied the pressure early - Shaun Pollock's opening spell as parsimonious and niggardly as ever and his 2 for 13 included five maidens - and never allowed the batsmen a glimmer of hope. Morne Morkel bowled with pace and control, deserving his career-best four wickets. The fielding was also tight, typified by de Villiers' superb pick up and direct hit to run out Bravo. But they were never remotely tested.
As the evening went on Chanderpaul, batting with a runner, passed fifty but by then few cared and his presence, like a lone diner in a restaurant at midnight, was simply irritating.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo