Pollard, Bravo Propel West indies to Series-levelling Win

A typically audacious half-century from captain Kieron Pollard, coupled with a career-best four-wicket haul from veteran Dwayne Bravo, propelled West Indies to a critical 21-run, series-levelling victory in the fourth Twenty20 International on Thursday.

Tottering on 101 for six in the 16th over after batting first for the first time in the five-match series, West Indies recovered to reach 167 for six off their 20 overs, courtesy of Man-of-the-Match Pollard’s unbeaten 51 off just 25 deliveries.

Opener Lendl Simmons slammed 47 off 34 deliveries at the top of the order but other than for Fabian Allen’s 13-ball 19 not out towards the end, the home side batsmen failed to show any enterprise, as spinners Tabraiz Shamsi (2-13) and George Linde (2-16) grabbed two wickets apiece to stall the innings in the middle period.

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In reply, Quinton de Kock extended his purple patch with a top score of 60 off 43 deliveries but no other batsman passed 20, leaving the Proteas well short of their target on 149 for nine.

The damage was done primarily by Bravo who snatched four for 19 from four superb overs as South Africa tumbled from 62 for two at the start of the 10th over, losing their next seven wickets for 84 runs to decline swiftly.

“Obviously in a game like this you’ve got to come hard and you have to try to win. It was a must-win game for us and it was a matter of coming out and being focussed,” Pollard said afterwards.

“We speak about batting down to the end. We have the power-hitters to hit the ball at the back end so it’s just a matter of setting it up.”

Sent in, West Indies started quickly when Simmons blasted two fours and sixes in the opening over from off-spinner Aiden Markram which leaked 20 runs, but then lost Evin Lewis for seven in the third over after he had put on 27 for the first wicket with Simmons, lofting pacer Anrich Nortje to mid on.

And Chris Gayle’s poor run continued when he edged a leaden-footed drive behind off fast bowler Kagiso Rabada for five in the fourth over, leaving the home side on 32 for two.

Shimron Hetmyer made seven in a 31-run, third wicket stand with Simmons before under-edging a cut behind off Linde in the ninth over, and Simmons followed in the 11th over, lbw missing a sweep at the same bowler.

Once Nicholas Pooran (16) and Andre Russell (9) followed cheaply, the West Indies innings flirted with disaster but Pollard roared, lashing two fours and five sixes in a 66-run, unbroken seventh wicket stand with Allen.

Significantly, West Indies plundered 55 runs from the last three overs – the penultimate over gushed 25 – with Allen chipping in with two fours and a six.

“For the majority of the bowling innings I thought we bowled well but there were probably three overs where we didn’t really hit our straps there and they really capitalised on us,” said a despondent Proteas captain Temba Bavuma.

“At the death they were quite harsh on us – I think they got about 60-odd runs in the last four overs and that really put us under pressure.”

West Indies’ momentum continued when Pollard tasked Gayle with bowling his first over in a T20 International in five years, and the 41-year-old responded by getting Reeza Hendricks stumped off the very first ball of the second over with the visitors having only eight on the board.

De Kock then added 28 for the second wicket with Bavuma (7) and a further 26 for the third wicket with Markram (20) but once Russell (2-30) bowled Markram at the start of the 10th over, the innings lost momentum.

Bravo, who entered the attack in the sixth over, went wicket-less in his initial two-over spell which cost eight runs but returned in the 16th over to get his first victim as Linde (6) holed out to point at 110 for six.

His last over, the 18th of the innings, yielded three wickets – the chief of which was De Kock’s, the left-hander lashing a full toss to point after counting half-dozen fours and two sixes.

The wickets of tail-enders Shamsi and Ngidi, both without scoring, followed soon after as South Africa’s challenge fizzled.


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