The way it looks now, West Indies’ World Cup preparations are full of cracks. They are faltering in every department. The bowling attack is blunted, fielding lapses are woeful and their batting is fully dependent on Chris Gayle. When Gayle clicks, the innings look good and when he flops, everyone follows. That was the story in the third ODI played on January 21, 2015 at Buffalo Park, East London. On Sunday, they asked South Africa to bat first after winning the toss and suffered. Yesterday, they won the toss again but chose to bat first. The result was the same. The batting fell like a castle of playing cards and South Africa plundered the required 123 runs in less than 25 overs. Though the results of all three ODIs show the might of South Africans, the Proteas have also been helped by extremely poor cricket from the Caribbean visitors. West Indies suffer from a serious lack of resources and that will make their chances in the upcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand very feeble. At Buffalo Park, their batting lasted only 33.4 overs during which 122 runs accrued. It was one of the most irresponsible acts of batsmanship in a 50-over match as the players produced ill-judged strokes with gloom writ large on their facial expressions. Though South Africa lost Rilee Rossouw, Amla and du Plessis completed the formalities before the blink of the eye.
On Sunday at Wanderers, the crowd saw AB de Villiers butchering West Indies bowling attack to race away to the fastest ODI hundred. Three days later, the South African bowlers ripped the West Indies batting apart to prove that they were just as solid in the other department as well. After winning the toss and batting first, West Indies lost Dwayne Smith and Chris Gayle by the 4th over with both batsmen falling caught behind to edges off Vernon Philander. Narsingh Deonarine and Marlon Samuels held on until the ninth over and compiled a 27 run partnership. But South Africa did not allow West Indies any chance of building the innings, when Dale Steyn found an upper edge of Deonarine’s bat and de Villiers took his third catch. 10 runs later Steyn produced another beautiful ball that forced Ramdin to play but the batsman didn’t move his feet and succeeded in dragging the ball on his wickets. In the 17th over, Samuels fell to a deceptive turn from Imran Tahir as the batsman shaped for a lofted shot. He was caught inside the long-off ropes by Rossouw. There were more irresponsible shots that followed from the West Indians and wickets kept tumbling. In the 30th over the score reached a pitiable 96/9. If it was not for the last wicket stand of 26 runs between new captain Jason Holder and Sulieman Benn, West Indies could not have even crossed the three-figure mark.
A victory target of 123 in 50 overs was literally a walk in the park for the South Africans, who have shown their batting acumen in the last two games. Moreover, the West Indies bowling could not have dramatically improved overnight after being brutally massacred by AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Rilee Rossouw only a few days back. To West Indies’ credit they still took the wicket of Rossouw in the 6th over. After that, Amla and du Plessis played freely and their 97-run unbeaten stand meant that South Africa recorded a 9-wicket victory with 152 balls remaining.
The third consecutive ODI victory decided the series 3-0 with two matches yet to be played. The match turned out to be an example of total dominance of the home side over the visitors. After two losses, the one at Buffalo Park was more humiliating and pointed to the picture that would emerge in the remaining games at Port Elizabeth and the Centurion. The way South Africa is sweeping West Indies, one cannot imagine any result other than a 5-0 whitewash. South Africans appear to be on the seventh heaven while West Indians are playing so dreadfully that they really deserve to be smashed.