After the Andre Russel led win in the fourth ODI at Port Elizabeth, it was back to battering for the West Indies from the strong South African batsmen. To stay abreast in top-flight cricket, the team must have a little of everything; batting, bowling and fielding. You cannot ride on luck alone. The resounding defeat at centurion must tell the West Indians that an odd performance from Gayle, Samuels, Sammy or Russel is not enough. South Africa proved that with their depth in batting, variety in bowling and smartness in fielding. With just a few days left for the 2015 Cricket World Cup, South Africans have emerged as a strong force. Besides South Africa, There is New Zealand, who have also been dishing out impressive limited-over performance for some time. But the West Indies side has not shown anything that would make them a contender for the World Cup. On Wednesday at Centurion, they played their last ODI game against South Africa and their bowlers were mercilessly hammered by South African batsmen. The brilliant Hashim Amla and rollicking Rilee Rossouw came up with centuries and South Africa posted 361 in 50 overs. The victory target of 362 was too monumental and when Gayle departed for the first-ball duck, it was curtains for West Indies then and there. But they had to endure another 38 overs, before the innings came to an end at 230, giving South Africa a comprehensive 131-run victory.
After winning the toss like he did at Port Elizabeth, Jason Holder asked South Africa to bat first. Of the last ball of the second over, the captain thought he had done the right thing as Quinton de Kock lasted only 7 balls after his comeback. Holder himself was the bowler and he pitched one short to which de Kock tried to pull. All the batsman got was a top edge over point and Jonathan Carter took an easy catch. Afterwards, for a while, South Africa played slowly and could reach 50 only by 10th over. But in the same over, South Africa lost du Plessis, who miscued a shorter delivery to the deep fine leg area. Captain Holder smiled to see 59/2 on the board. He began dreaming of the repeat of Port Elizabeth events. But all his dreams evaporated and the smile never came back again as Amla and Rossouw took command. The two batsmen smashed the bowlers at will and raced to 306 by the 39th over. Though Rossouw and Amla got out after making centuries, South Africa added another 55 to finish with 361/5 in 50 overs.
With a huge 362-run victory target in front of them, West Indies began by losing Chris Gayle of the very first delivery. It was a comic dismissal since Kyle Abbott’s ball was declared a wide by the umpire even as every South African appealed vociferously for caught behind. They straightaway went for a review, which showed that Gayle threw his bat at the wide delivery and got an edge. The umpire reversed his decision and that was the end of Chris Gayle. With the most dangerous batsman out of the way, the rest became quite easy for South Africa despite Dwayne Smith and Narsingh Deonarine putting on 77 for the second wicket. The fighting West Indians produced another 91-run stand for the fourth wicket and though the score of 172/3 looked good in the 28th over, the later order batsmen couldn’t stand against the fiery spell from Wayne Parnell. The wickets fell like nine pins and from 172/3 in the 28th over, West Indies were bundled out for 230 in the 38th to lose by 131 runs. Parnell finished with 4/42 in 9 overs but he missed the fifth wicket, when JP Duminy dropped a simple chance from Sammy.
They wouldn’t have reached the target anyway but the manner in which West Indies batsmen played in the middle overs, raises a thousand questions about the state of West Indian cricket. South Africa won the series 4-1 and it could easily have been 5-0 but for some heroics from Andre Russell at Port Elizabeth. With the World Cup round the corner, South Africa look in great shape but only the reverse is true about the West Indies.