South Africa vs West Indies T-20 review

When Graeme Smith decided to send the West Indies in yesterday night at the Bull Ring, he would have not hoped for a repeat of the opening game of the 2003 World Cup. Although that was at Newlands, both the games had a lot in common. Both were

1.) The opening games of a major international cricket event

2.) Featuring South Africa and West Indies

3.) Both had West Indies taking first guard.

In that game, it was Brian Lara who caused Smith’s predecessor Shaun Pollock a headache. This time around, it was another left hander who again gave the South African captain a headache, but it wasn’t Lara. It was a tall Jamaican named Christopher Gayle.

Hurricane Gayle struck the Wanderers on Tuesday night and there was little that the South Africans could do while he was at the crease. Gayle had decided that today was to be a day for rewriting the T-20 history books. The Wanderers is by no means a small ground, but Gayle made it look like a neighbouring garden fence with his shots. Anything that allowed him even a little  amount of room disappeared out of the park as soon it left his bat. And Gayle didn’t specifically target the shorter square boundaries- he even waged war on the long straight boundaries, remember the two sixes he hit off Ntini to send him out of the attack ? The result- after close to 75 minutes of a display of brute power was the first T-20 century ever. Gayle slammed 117 off 57 balls, and scored an amazing 88 runs in boundaries. No bowler was spared, and even Shaun Pollock was treated with disdain. Incidentally, there was  one ball that Gayle failed to pick up- a slow, loopy bouncer ( second ball of over 13). Morne Morkel also did reasonably well, as he used his height to good effect and followed Gayle as he moved around the crease to prevent him from freeing his arms. Nevertheless, all the bowlers, Pollock and Morkel included, were very happy when Gayle finally skied one to Boucher off Johan Van Der Wath. And when you see the final analysis, it was probably Gayle’s dismissal that proved to be the difference between the two sides. When Gayle fell, the WI were 177-2 off 16 overs. They ended up on 204. South Africa were 180/2 after sixteen. Had Gayle stayed, the West Indies might well have ended up somewhere close to 225.

1.)  Gayle now has the record of the maximum number of sixes in a T-20 innings. His 10 eclipses the previous record of 5 to be held by Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn and some others.

2.) The first  fifty of the first ever T20 World Cup.

3.) The first four ( he scored it off the first ball of the innings).

South Africa had been in good form coming into this game ( beating the Aussies in a friendly). If anyone can claim to know the Wanderers well, it is them. They had chased down 434 not too long ago on this very ground. And they eventually overhauled WI’s 204 with well over two overs to spare. Fortunately for Smith and co, the match did not turn into a repeat of the 2003 Capetown game. And credit for that goes to Herschelle Gibbs and Justin Kemp. The West Indian fielders and bowlers must share the blame- there were many dropped catches, and the bowlers didn’t attempt the variations and put the balls in the very slot where they weren’t supposed to.

A tale of the two G’s- Gayle and Gibbs, if you were to sum up the match in a nutshell.


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