West Indies take unassailable 2-0 lead against South Africa, overhauling 232-run target with four wickets in hand
Storms were predicted in Johannesburg on Sunday (January 11), but it stayed away to ensure an entire evening of slam-bang hitting. Faf du Plessis blasted his way to the second-fastest Twenty20 International century to give South Africa an imposing 231 for 7. But it was up against a supreme West Indies T20I side. Leading the way, once again, was Chris Gayle, who hit nine fours and seven sixes in his 41-ball 90 as West Indies won by four wickets to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Watching Gayle bat, it seemed like his mind was pre-programmed to hit everything that came his way. Aiding him along the way was a South Africa attack without Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel. And they bowled repeatedly into Gayle's arc as the ball soared far and wide like it would off a golfer's club.
Marlon Samuels chipped in with a 39-ball 60, with the second-wicket stand yielding 152 as West Indies made light of the chase, finishing with four balls to spare.
The damage at the top by Gayle and Samuels helped West Indies overcome an implosion in the middle as it was ahead of the required run rate for most of the chase. Following Gayle's dismissal for 90, the visiting side lost Samuels, Kieron Pollard (7), Andre Russell (14) and Dwayne Bravo (10) in the space of six overs to leave South Africa with a chance of sneaking through the back door. But Darren Sammy (20 not out) burst that bubble quickly enough.
Such was the ferocity of the batting on display that it was almost impossible to believe du Plessis’s knock could be trumped. His 59-ball 110, which was only behind Richard Levi's century against New Zealand in terms of balls faced, was one of sheer timing for most parts. The brute force was brought into the mix after the run-out of David Miller (46 off 23 balls) ended a threatening 108-run stand that came off just 49 balls.
Miller and du Plessis hit 15 boundaries and six sixes between them. It was almost as if they had a competition going as to who could go the greater distance, as at least three deliveries were sent out of the park. None of the West Indies bowlers were allowed to settle down. That the third-highest score in South Africa's innings was 19 was indication of the magnitude of du Plessis's knock.
Sheldon Cottrell, the left-arm seamer, who took 2 for 33 in a high-scoring first T20I two nights ago in Cape Town, came under the pump as he conceded 47 runs off his three overs, while Suleimann Benn, the left-arm spinner who replaced Ashley Nurse, managed marginally better – picking up a wicket and conceding 42 off his three overs.
West Indies started in explosive fashion, with Dwayne Smith hitting three boundaries in the first over off Kyle Abbott. That set the trigger for Gayle, and there was no looking back as the umpires were in for a frenetic session of arm-stretching exercises.
Imran Tahir was the pick of the bowlers for South Africa, conceding 29 off his four overs. But with the pressure let off at the other end, it was almost impossible to stop the visiting side.
Later in the piece, South Africa had a glimmer of hope when David Wiese, the medium pacer, mixed his pace nicely to nip out three scalps, but it proved too little too late. Sammy lent the finishing touches in his signature style, launching a big six over deep midwicket, as West Indies registered the highest-successful chase in T20I history.
To see the full scorecard of the match between South Africa v West Indies, please click here.