Port Elizabeth, South Africa:
Andre Russell's late blitz capped a superb fightback from the West Indies to beat South Africa by one wicket in a tense fourth one-day international at St. George's Park on Sunday.
David Miller's maiden ODI hundred appeared to have set up South Africa for a fourth straight win in the five-match series as the home side posted 262-8 in its 50 overs and then reduced West Indies to 73-5 in reply.
But Marlon Samuels (68) and Darren Sammy (51) put on 93 for the sixth wicket before Russell provided the late fireworks, hitting 64 not out in 40 balls to see the tourists home with nine balls to spare.
With the West Indies failing to put up a fight in the first three matches, concerns had been raised about the lack of pressure situations for South Africa in its World Cup buildup and its middle order's lack of time at the wicket.
While Miller's unbeaten 130 proved the middle order's capability and confirmed his own evolution from a late-order hitter to a batsman who can produce innings of greater substance, a much-changed Proteas side still failed to deal with the pressure when it arrived.
The left-hander came to the crease with the home side in trouble at 32-3. After AB de Villiers had fallen for 19 to leave South Africa 76-4 in the 15th over, Miller shared a 90-run stand with JP Duminy to put them back in charge.
Miller received little support once Duminy had been caught and bowled by Darren Sammy for 43, but went to three figures in 122 balls and then blitzed three sixes in a strong finish to his 133-ball knock.
“It's an unbelievable feeling to get a hundred for your country, and as the first one I'll remember it forever,” Miller said in a television interview.
“I've been working hard in the last two years to add that part of my game to be able to rotate the strike through the middle overs. I'm really chuffed.”
West Indies captain Jason Holder grabbed three wickets in the final eight overs of the innings to record figures of 4-53, but missed out on a five-wicket haul when he dropped Miller off the final ball of the innings.
When two runouts helped the West Indies lose five wickets in the first 21 overs, it appeared as though another heavy defeat was on the cards.
But Samuels dug in and found support from Sammy, whose aggressive batting revived the innings until he was brilliantly caught by De Villiers off the bowling of Wayne Parnell.
Farhaan Behardien bowled Samuels soon after to leave Russell and the lower order with 74 runs to get, but the allrounder proved equal to the task as he smashed five sixes to give the West Indies the spoils after a much-improved performance.
“It means a lot to our team. Obviously we've had a tough tour up to this point so to get across the line today was very pleasing,” Holder said.
The last ODI is on Wednesday at Centurion.