Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent for South Africa and women's cricket
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West Indies 335 for 8 (Hope 128*, Coetzee 3-57) beat South Africa 287 (Bavuma 144, Hosein 3-59, Joseph 3-53) by 48 runs
For an ODI with nothing riding on it, this one had a little bit of everything.
Temba Bavuma struck his second successive international century, third in 2023, and notched up a career-best 144 but Shai Hope, captaining West Indies for the first time, trumped the home captain's effort. Hope brought up his 14th ODI century and anchored West Indies to post their highest score against South Africa in the format and the second highest at Buffalo Park. It proved enough as West Indies registered a 48-run victory over South Africa, seven years after the last completed ODI between these two, in June 2016.
West Indies, who have played all their World Cup Super League matches and barring Sri Lanka and South Africa being blanked by New Zealand and Netherlands respectively are certain to participate in the qualifiers in Zimbabwe in June, will be pleased with the way they acquitted themselves in this match. On a slow surface, their batters adapted well and there were three half-century stands in their innings, while Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph and Akeal Hosein made good use of the short, slower ball and spin respectively to sufficiently challenge South Africa. As a result, they earned their sixth win in 28 ODIs in South Africa and 16th in 64 meetings.
South Africa are also in a precarious position in terms of automatic qualification for this years' 50-over World Cup, and will reflect on this match as a test of their depth and the work still to be done. They fielded four debutants, as a result of squad rotation, injuries and illnesses, and will know there's work to be done. Of the three new batters - Ryan Rickleton, Tony de Zorzi and Tristan Stubbs - the first two were foxed by spin and Stubbs was victim to a short ball. The bowling newbie, Gerald Coetzee, was South Africa's most successful and joint-most economical bowler, but was run-out as he failed to slide his bat in late in the piece. That's a harsh criticism with more attention to be put on Lungi Ngidi lack of variations, Marco Jansen's uncertainty on his lengths and the composition of the attack, which had only five bowlers and not enough slower bowling options.
West Indies cruised to 66 without loss in eight overs before left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin was introduced. At domestic level, Fortuin has made a habit of taking wickets in his opening over and he did exactly that, albeit not with his best ball. Mayers pulled a half-tracker to Rickelton at deep midwicket to spark a mini-collapse. West Indies lost three wickets in 12 balls, and found themselves on 71 for 3 in the 11th over.
It was up to the current and former captains - Hope and Nicholas Pooran - to rebuild. They took on the spinners, with good use of the feet and Jansen, who continued to struggle to find the right length, and shared a stand of 86 runs off 80 balls before Pooran dragged a short, slower Coetzee ball to Rassie van der Dussen at midwicket to depart for 39 and bring T20I captain, Rovman Powell to the crease.
Powell should have been out six when he drilled the ball back to Tabraiz Shamsi, who could not hold on his followthrough and went on to cost South Africa 40 runs. Powell put on 80 for the fifth wicket with Hope before he bottom-edged another Coetzee short ball onto his stumps and South Africa could apply a squeeze. They gave away just eight runs in the next 22 balls, including a scoreless over from Jansen to keep West Indies fairly quiet at a crucial stage.
Hope neared the 90s with sixes off Fortuin and Ngidi and put on 42 with Holder, who was dismissed on review to Shamsi. Hope also lost Hosein to an inswinging Jansen yorker and then brought up his hundred off the 104th ball he faced. West Indies scored 93 runs off the last ten overs, including 40 runs off the last three overs, and Hope hit 28 runs off the last nine balls he faced to set South Africa a steep target.
They were required to complete their fourth-highest successful chase and started well. Quinton de Kock, who had not played a competitive match since his last appearance at the SA20 almost six weeks ago, showed no signs of rust. He latched onto anything overpitched - and West Indies offered plenty in the first five overs - or on the pads. South Africa brought up fifty in six overs, de Kock survived an lbw appeal from Holder, which was reviewed, and was then given out on 48 to expose an inexperienced middle order that Bavuma marshalled.
He brought up his third ODI fifty with a clean strike off Mayers over extra cover that went for six, similar to the stroke that took him to a second Test century last week. West Indies used the second and last review at the end of that over, when Mayers thought he had Bavuma lbw in similar fashion to de Kock but ball tracking showed it was missing leg stump.
South Africa were 123 for 1 at the first drinks' break, when West Indies brought on their legspinner Yannic Cariah. With his first ball, he beat Rickelton's inside edge with a quick legbreak and got the lbw decision. Rickelton reviewed, reluctantly and unsuccessfully, to bring another debutant, Tony de Zorzi, to the crease. De Zorzi almost played the second ball he faced onto his stumps but it squirted past for four. He played some sweet strokes before being bowled by a flat, quick ball from Hosein.
Rassie van der Dussen never looked comfortable at the crease and survived an lbw appeal and a stumping chance before pulling a Joseph bouncer to fine leg. Tristan Stubbs, on debut, top-edged a short, slower ball from Odean Smith straight up and Hope took a simple catch to open up South Africa's lower order.
Jansen's first runs came off an outside edge, leaving Bavuma on strike, on 99, at the start of the 31st over. He sent Hosein through extra cover for a single to bring up his fourth ODI century, and second this year. South Africa still needed 121 runs off 115 balls.
West Indies would have thought the game was up when Jansen holed out to long-on and Fortuin was stumped later that over, but Bavuma took it deep. He surpassed his previous career-best score of 113 and then hit three sixes off a Cariah over and confidently rotated strike with Ngidi. Their ninth-wicket stand reached 49 before Bavuma gloved Joseph down leg to end a valiant effort. South Africa were bowled out two balls later when Shamsi nicked off and Joseph finished with three.
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