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West Indies v South Africa tri-series, Basseterre – Preview

Under-pressure South Africa must get its act together against well-oiled host

West Indies v South Africa tri-series, Basseterre – Preview - Cricket News
South Africa have one win from three games played so far.
From 210 for 3 in the 38th over, chasing 289 should have been a manageable task. But South Africa lost its last seven wickets for just 42 runs, crumbling to a 36-run loss against Australia in its tri-series game on June 11.

It is that kind of batting collapse that AB de Villiers will want to avoid a repeat of as his team returns to Warner Park in Basseterre on Wednesday (June 15) to take on the West Indies in the sixth game of the tournament.

A win will lift South Africa from the bottom and take it level with Australia at the top of the table, while a loss will seriously dent its chances of making it to the final, even with two more games to play.  

The West Indies, meanwhile, can take a clear lead if it gets its third victory from four games. The host has all the momentum, a Marlon Samuels special at the same ground on Monday helping it chase down Australia's 265 for 7 with four wickets and 26 balls to spare.

It was Samuels' first ODI half-century against Australia in 15 years (he's played 21 games against the side since then), and with the top order building solid partnerships, Jason Holder will believe the team has shrugged off lingering rust in the one-day format. With wins against South Africa and Australia so far, the team not only appears settled, but also high on confidence.

In the previous West Indies-South Africa clash, which was the opening match of the tournament in Providence, the bowlers, especially the spinners, had a big say. South Africa was restricted to 188 as Sunil Narine took a career-best 6 for 27, though it needed the heroics of Kieron Pollard to steer the host to a four-wicket win.

The Basseterre surface, though, is of a different mould. Both teams know the pacers will have a bigger role to play, but the focus will remain on the batsmen, especially considering the short boundaries at Warner Park.

In the two games there so far, Australia has posted 288 and 265. With both of Wednesday's teams boasting of several power-hitters, another high-scoring game could be on the cards.   

Phil Simmons, the West Indies coach, said his batsmen were ready. “The pressure has been put on the top four batsmen to set up games for us. We know how destructive we can be at the end of an innings, so the top four has been asked to put their dancing shoes on to ensure that the bottom half of the batting can do what they do.”

South Africa will be boosted by the return to fitness of Chris Morris, who missed its last two matches owing to a left hamstring injury. Hashim Amla, though, admitted that the established batsmen would have to do the heavy lifting.

“There is always a responsibility for any of the batsmen to close out the game,” said Amla on Monday. “For many years, and with no disrespect to the lower order, we have had a longish tail but have still managed to win games of cricket. Mind you, players like (Aaron) Phangiso and (Kyle) Abbott have really improved their batting and certainly having Parney (Wayne Parnell) and Morris in the team as allrounders does help. Regardless of whoever is batting at 7, 8 and 9, it is up to the top order to get the team the win.”

Teams (from):

West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Sulieman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Shannon Gabriel, Sunil Narine, Ashley Nurse, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor.

South Africa: AB de Villiers (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Dean Elgar, Tabraiz Shamsi.

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