South Africa stunned by red-hot West Indies
Twenty20 is meant to be a batsman's game, but try telling that to anyone present at Port Elizabeth as West Indies completed a five-wicket win with 19 balls to spare in a frantic match reduced to 13 overs a side by early rain
Jerome Taylor did the early damage with a triple-wicket maiden as South Africa crashed to 22 for 7
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Twenty20 is meant to be a batsman's game, but try telling that to anyone present at Port Elizabeth as West Indies completed a five-wicket win with 19 balls to spare in a frantic match reduced to 13 overs a side by early rain. South Africa crashed to 22 for 7 after Jerome Taylor took three wickets in his first over but defending a paltry 58 - the lowest total in Twenty20 internationals - Dale Steyn produced another triple-wicket over to make a statement of his own ahead of the Test series.
West Indies went hard at the run chase from ball one, literally, as Brenton Parchment walked down the pitch at Shaun Pollock then three balls later launched him out of the ground, half way towards Cape Town. But he slapped the final ball of the first over to cover as Pollock won a mini battle. A few moments of normality followed as West Indies moved to 32 for 1 before Steyn's intervention.
Devon Smith was late to get his bat down, losing his off stump, Runako Morton was bowled off his pads and Marlon Samuels offered Steyn a full view of the timber as he backed away to leg. None of those were anything, though, in comparison to Dwayne Bravo's first-ball dismissal as he was left with one stump standing following a shattering 90mph yorker from Steyn. For a moment it looked like South Africa might pull off an astonishing turnaround, but Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Denesh Ramdin produced some sensible shot selection although Chanderpaul could have been run out on 4.
It is dangerous to read too much into a Twenty20 match - South Africa were without Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla who will all be part of the Test side - but such matches have been known to set the tone early on in a tour. Remember England's clash against Australia at The Rose Bowl in 2005, when Darren Gough helped reduce Australia to 31 for 7 in a similarly mind-boggling passage of play. No international side enjoys being humiliated in any format, and West Indies should have taken note of the way some of the batsmen played the extra pace. This wasn't the military medium of the New Zealanders.
The conditions were ideal for quick bowling, a heavy atmosphere and a pitch with pace and bounce. South Africa could barely get the ball off the square; their first two came in the eighth over and they didn't find the boundary inside the first 10 overs.
Taylor's opening over certainly woke anyone up who was still snoozing after the rain. His first delivery beat Morne van Wyk's loose drive, then he followed up with a rapid yorker which beat JP Duminy for pace. AB de Villiers survived the hat-trick delivery but not much longer, although was slightly unfortunate when the ball went off the inside edge from a defensive push. Taylor had bowled a triple-wicket maiden; a rarity in any cricket let-alone a 13-over match.
Three wickets in six balls became four in seven when Daren Powell removed Herschelle Gibbs, but Powell owed everything to a stunning one-handed catch by Chanderpaul at mid-on. And, as if it wasn't tough enough, South Africa gifted the next wicket through a horrible mix-up which left both Pollock and Gulam Bodi at the same end.
Everything West Indies touched turned to success. Bravo's pick-up-and-throw from the covers - aiming at one-and-a-half stumps - brought the end of Albie Morkel's brief stay and a notable milestone for South Africa was when Bodi's innings reached double figures of balls faced. Finally, in the 11th over South Africa cut loose (it's all relative) as Botha went high over long-on off Darren Sammy, but revenge came Sammy's way he ended Bodi's 26-ball resistance - which almost classed as a vigil - off the final ball of the over.
Fidel Edwards charged in and made the batsmen hop around, pinning Johan Botha on the grill leaving him needing lengthy treatment on the outfield. Botha recovered to lift his team above fifty with a couple of meaty blows in the final over and, given the chaos surrounding him, his 28 was a Herculean effort. It ended as the highest score on a crazy evening, but West Indies took the honours and can enter the more serious business of the Test series with a timely confidence boost.
Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo