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South Africa vs West Indies: Parnell Keeps South African Juggernaut Rolling

By on June 13, 2009

icc world twenty20 - Wayne Parnell

South Africa 183 for 7 (Gibbs 55, Kallis 45, Taylor 3-30) beat West Indies 163 for 9 (Simmons 77, Parnell 4-13) by 20 runs…

There is only one team that can beat South Africa in this kind of form and at The Oval, West Indies weren’t one of them. On a true, hard pitch, Herschelle Gibbs and Jacques Kallis led South Africa to 183 against an attack understandably drained from a second game in less than 24 hours. An unspectacular, solid bowling performance from Wayne Parnell and Roelof van der Merwe then spiked West Indies’ chase, rendering Lendl Simmons’ fine hand futile. Parnell picked up four wickets to leave West Indies short by 20 runs, South Africa with a record-breaking sixth consecutive T20I win and a semi-final spot all but sealed.

The South African juggernaut threatened to march mercilessly on at The Oval, before a late, late fightback from West Indies kept them, on a true, hard pitch, to within reasonable distance. Contributions from Herschelle Gibbs and Jacques Kallis led South Africa to 183 for 7, but it threatened for much of the innings to be significantly more. That it wasn’t, was due mostly to a fine finish from Jerome Taylor and Fidel Edwards; 45 from the last five overs is reasonable for a batting side, but West Indies will take it as a victory of sorts given what had gone before.

For 15 overs South Africa barely broke sweat against a West Indian attack understandably drained from last night’s efforts against India. They marched along at comfortably over eight an over, a bundle of wickets in hand, singles and doubles taking a back seat to a bucket-load of boundaries.

Matters appeared ominous from the very off for West Indies. As fierce as Taylor and Edwards had been against India, so they were meek today. Lengths in the first six overs were fuller, perhaps unnecessarily so. Graeme Smith and Kallis took toll, driving, pulling, cutting and whipping to a fifty partnership. It didn’t feel quite like a flood of boundaries at first, more a steady, inevitable trickle; ten boundaries and sixes came during the Powerplay on an outfield with less friction than an ice-skating rink.

Kallis contributed, inevitably, to the inevitability of things. Like someone on a first date, he never fully let himself go but impressed nonetheless. No one particular region was favoured, cover drives, pulls and cuts mixing freely. Some streaky shots were thrown in too, as if to prove finally that he can do this format. Six overs after his captain fell, he went too, for 45, having established himself as the tournament’s leading scorer. Until then, it had felt curiously like listening to Kraftwerk, the pioneering German electronica band: obviously admirable and very good but just so soulless, so automated.

Thank god then for Gibbs, who had set himself by the time Kallis fell and who brought a wonderfully uncontrolled contrast. Shots were manufactured – he paddle-swept Kieron Pollard for his first boundary in the seventh over before inside edging him for four again – and risks taken.

As spin replaced pace, Gibbs brought out his dancing shoes, smashing Chris Gayle straight down the ground and scything Suleiman Benn over point. He brought up the hundred in only the 12th over, on one knee smashing straight down the ground. Two overs later, Llendl Simmons was lofted twice, over midwicket for six and inside out for four. But having just reached a fifty the next over, when his impishness was at a fair peak, he was gone for 55.

That wicket let West Indies back into it when they had no right – at 136 for three from 15 – to get into it. Taylor and Edwards returned to the attack and to the ways of last night, mixing and matching both pace and length. Albie Morkel and AB de Villiers, who briefly threatened acceleration even when there scarcely seemed scope for more, both went in Taylor’s return over, the 17th. Taylor ended with three and though Edwards bowled a poor last over, on this pitch, West Indies will fancy the chase.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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