West IndiesAfter suffering three miserable defeats in the ongoing ODI series, West Indies reversed the trend for once. They beat South Africa in the 4th ODI on January 25 at Port Elizabeth. But the West Indians didn’t get that on platter because the thriller required heroics from Andre Russel late in the innings, when it seemed that South Africa would run away with another comfortable victory. But the format of 50-50 games allows complete turnaround by a single bowler or a batsman. Other than Russel, new captain Jason Holder also derived the satisfaction of leading his side to the first victory under his charge. The West Indian bowlers removed four frontline batsmen early and restricted free scoring in the middle overs. This effectively nullified the fine century effort from David Miller as the match became competitive for the first time in the series. Other than Russel, West Indies innings also featured half-centuries from Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy. The one-wicket victory with 9 balls remaining made the contest extremely thrilling in the end.


Jason Holder won the toss and his decision to field first looked perfect as debut man Sheldon Cottrell removed one opener quickly in the 3rd over. Rilee Rossouw dabbed at an away-going delivery that came on his off stump. The edge appeared to be falling short but Darren Sammy flung himself full length to bring off an amazing catch. The next man to go was the dangerous du Plessis, who edged a full delivery from Holder and this time it was wicketkeeper Ramdin, who held a marvelous one-gloved catch with an acrobatic reflex dive. The score of 32/2 became 32/3 two balls later, when Cottrell struck yet again. It wasn’t a great delivery from the debutant but Morne van Wyk chased it to get a nick and Ramdin brought off another miracle catch. David Miller and AB de Villiers added 44 runs for the fourth wicket but Andre Russel came up with the prize wicket of de Villiers. It was a fine delivery that found de Villiers’ inside edge that went to Ramdin. 76/4 in the 15th over was a dismal start for South Africa after three one-sided wins over the West Indies. From this point forward, South Africa were propped up by David Miller and JP Duminy. The two batsmen added 90 runs in the next 22 overs until Darren Sammy broke the stand. Duminy played a shade early and Sammy took a return catch very smartly. Miller was left alone with tail-enders at this stage. Regardless, he paced his innings well getting most of the strike. Remaining unbeaten until the end, Miller scored his maiden ODI century. His 130 scored off 133 balls had 11 fours and 3 sixes and that helped South Africa reach 262/8 after 50 overs.


When West Indies came on to chase 263, they were immediately in trouble. Dwayne Smith fell in the first over and four more wickets fell by the 21st. The Caribbean visitors tottered at 73/5 and it looked like South Africa’s game at that stage. Only the tail remained with two recognized batsmen; Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels. But these two staged a marvelous recovery and by 36th over, the score reached 166/5. On the first delivery of the 37th, Wayne Parnell removed Sammy, when the batsman got too adventurous.  Sammy’s departure brought Andre Russel with West Indies still requiring 97 off 13.5 overs. With six batsmen gone, it was still not easy as Samuels fell at the score of 189 in the 40th over. Now Russel had the tail-enders with him, just as Miller had for South Africa early on. But Russel didn’t give up. He kept his focus and batted like an old-time West Indian. He lost Jason Holder in the 43rd over but with next man Carlos Brathwaite, added 21 for the ninth wicket. When Brathwaite got out, West Indies still required 24 from 17. Russel had a pep-talk with eleventh man Sheldon Cottrell, and ensured that he got as much strike as possible. On the next ball after Barthwaite departed, Cottrell immediately ran for a single and watched Russel hit two massive sixes off Aaron Phangiso. Four more runs accrued from that over and Russel kept the strike. Now 7 were required off the next 12 balls. Of the first ball of 49th over, Russel scored a boundary and allowed a dot ball to Kyle Abbott. On the third, it was all over as Russel lifted Abbott out of the ground for a six over long-on. It was a brave effort from Russel, who remained unbeaten on 64, scored off 40 balls with 5 fours and an equal number of sixes.