South Africa’s bowlers held their nerve during a thrilling run chase to clinch a win over the West Indies by one run in the third Twenty20 international on Tuesday, giving the Proteas a 2-1 lead in the five-match series in St.George, Grenada.
The West Indies came to the last over, bowled by Kagiso Rabada, needing 15 runs to win with three wickets in hand. Rabada bowled full, angling into the batter and leg stump, supported by a stacked leg-side field, and Fabian Allen and Dwayne Bravo were unable to swing freely.
The over didn’t start well for Rabada who just missed his line first ball and conceded a wide. But two of his next three deliveries passed between the batsman’s legs; the other went for four.
West Indies took two from the fourth ball, leaving the hosts needing eight runs from the last two deliveries. Rabada tipped the match South Africa’s way with a yorker which denied the West Indies a run from the penultimate ball.
Allen struck the last ball of the match for six, finishing 14 not out from nine balls, as the West Indies finished agonizingly short on 166-7.
“Time and time again we have these close matches,” West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said. “Sometimes you end up on the winning side, sometimes you end up on the losing side.
“The last series (against Sri Lanka) we had these nail-biting games and we were on the winning side. For us, we just need to find a way and however that is we have to do it.”
Tuesday’s match closely followed the pattern of the first two, the West Indies winning the toss and asking South Africa to bat.
In the first match, which the West Indies won by eight wickets, South Africa made 160-6 and in the second, won by South Africa by 16 runs, the Proteas reached 166-7. On both occasions, South Africa started well but didn’t finish strongly.
On Tuesday, South Africa was 147-3 but faltered again, losing five wickets for 17 runs.
Apart from de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen (32), Aiden Markram (23) and Reeze Hendricks (17) were the only batters to reach double figures.
The West Indies made a cautious start, reaching 48-0 after the powerplay. But they needed at least one batsman to play the anchor role and pace the innings. Instead, several made starts but couldn’t capitalize.
At the top of the order, Evin Lewis made 27, Lendl Simmons 22, Jason Holder 16, Shimron Hetmeyer 17 and Nicholas Pooran 26. Andre Russell later kept the West Indies' hopes alive with 25 from 16 balls, including three sixes.
The West Indies were well placed at 140-6 after 17 overs. Anrich Nortje made a major contribution when he took 1-4 from the 19th over. Shamsi earlier dismissed Lewis and Hetmyer.
“It was nice to put in a performance for the team,” Shamsi said. “But the whole bowling unit was unbelievable today.
“As a bowling unit we had a hard chat after the first game. A lot of people gave us a lot of criticism.
“But people forget we’re a young group. It doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t have the skills but we need more experience playing together.”
The fourth T20 is on Thursday.