The spinners have the Caribbean boys in a spin as they are bowled out for just 222 and de Villiers ensures no surprises with a century in the rain-hit match.
Tahir's sparkling debut leads South Africa's star spin cast against West Indies
NEW DELHI // This was a tale of two World Cup debutants, a one-time “local hero” and a run-out that utterly transformed the complexion of the match.
At the end of it all, South Africa breezed home by seven wickets, with 43 balls to spare. After an early wobble in pursuit of 223, AB de Villiers, back at the ground where he played two IPL seasons for Delhi Daredevils, struck a magnificent 107 to justify his team’s status as one of the pre-tournament favourites.
West Indies were left to reflect on an innings of quality from Darren Bravo, and the abysmal call from Shivnarine Chanderpaul that ran out Darren’s brother, Dwayne. Later in the evening, Dwayne appeared to do serious damage to his knee after losing his footing on his follow through. A team that has already seen two players go home injured faces an anxious wait for the scan results.
South Africa have the most feared new-ball attack in the competition, but the real story of this game was their new-found faith in spin. Lonwabo Tsotsobe has 36 wickets from 19 one-day games, but had to make way as Imran Tahir, born in Pakistan and one of sport’s true nomads, made his much-anticipated debut.
The early impact though came from Johan Botha, who had Chris Gayle caught at slip off the third ball of the innings. Darren Bravo nearly followed, but South Africa’s review of umpire Simon Taufel’s leg-before decision was correctly turned down.
The Bravo brothers are related to Lara – their grandfather and Lara’s mother, Pearl, are brother and sister – and there was more than a hint of wristy magic about the way Darren went about his innings. He timed the ball beautifully and worked the gaps.
With Devon Smith content to give him most of the strike, the partnership was worth 111 when Bravo played all round a straight one from Botha. At that point, Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, tossed the ball to Tahir, who had been taken off after his second over went for 11, including an astonishing one-handed six from Bravo.
His fourth ball was tossed up and beat Devon Smith in the flight. The return catch was gleefully accepted, and with the first ball of his next over, he got Ramnaresh Sarwan with a leg break that turned just enough. Had he held on to a tough catch offered by the elder Bravo, the innings might have been wrapped up even sooner, but instead the West Indies rebuilt with an assured 58-run stand.
It ended when Chanderpaul called Bravo through for a non-existent single. Tahir then had both Chanderpaul and Devon Thomas caught in the deep, before Dale Steyn dealt with the tail.
In reply, Hashim Amla was brilliantly taken off the inside edge, and Jacques Kallis smartly caught at slip, but with both de Villiers and Graeme Smith granted reprieves, West Indies’ hopes evaporated. De Villiers struck two sixes and some gorgeous cover-drives, while Smith anchored the innings until Kieron Pollard sneaked one through bat and pad.
Even a brief drizzle couldn’t stop South Africa though, and Smith was delighted afterwards with de Villiers and the success of the Tahir gamble.
“I used him in short spells, and each time he came on, he made an impact,” he said. “Everything I envisaged going into this game worked out.”
Darren Sammy wasn’t too downcast, with five matches remaining. “Losing wickets in clusters hampered us,” he said. “The guys getting starts didn’t carry on.”
For Bravo the younger, there was qualified praise. “Darren is a very confident player,” he said. “Most people already compare him to Lara. He’s a great asset and I see him scoring lots of runs.”
Chris Gayle c Kallis b Botha 2
Devon Smith c & b Tahir 36
Darren Bravo lbw b Botha 73
Ramnaresh Sarwan lbw b Tahir 2
Shivnarine Chanderpaul c Peterson b Tahir 31
Dwayne Brave run out 40
Devon Thomas c Duminy b Tahir 15
Kieron Pollard lbw b Steyn 0
Darren Sammy lbw b Steyn 0
Sulieman Benn c Morkel b Steyn 6
Kemar Roach not out 2
Extras: (1b, 1lb, 11w) 13
TOTAL: (all out, 47.3 overs) 222
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-113, 3-117, 4-120, 5-178, 6-209, 7-213, 8-213, 9-213, 10-222.
Bowling: Johan Botha 9-0-48-2 (3w), Dale Steyn 7.3-1-24-3 (2w), Morne Morkel 8-0-35-0 (2w), Jacques Kallis 3-0-21-0, Imran Tahir 10-1-41-4, Robin Peterson 10-0-49-0.
Hashim Amla c Thomas b Roach 14
Graeme Smith b Pollard 45
Jacques Kallis c Sammy b Benn 4
AB de Villiers not out 107
JP Duminy not out 42
Extras: (10lb, 1nb) 11
TOTAL: (for three wickets, 42.5 overs) 223
Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-20, 3-139.
Bowling: Sulieman Benn 10-0-51-1, Kemar Roach 8-0-42-1, Dwayne Bravo 2.1-0-12-0, Darren Sammy 8-0-40-0, Kieron Pollard 7.5-0-37-1 (1nb), Chris Gayle 6-0-26-0, Devon Smith 0.5-0-5-0.
Result: South Africa won by seven wickets.