By Ravendra Madholall
It was excitement galore in the second and penultimate T20 Sunday in South Africa where the hosts proved more efficient in the batting section to equalize the three-match T20 series against West Indies.
West Indies galloped to a formidable 258-5 from the 20-overs and perhaps felt the total was enough to clinch a historical series win but South Africa rebounded well easing to victory with seven balls remaining and only losing six wickets in the process.
West Indies had initiated this segment in auspicious manner in the midst of a rain-affected encounter but this showdown Tuesday is likely to unveil another eye-catching drama.
In the preceding one-day series which contained three matches, both teams shared honors after the other fixture was abandoned due to all-day precipitation.
And before that the two-match test series belonged to the hosts as they plastered the West Indians in every facet. They dolled out victories with days to spare, a demonstration of their eagerness to beat West Indies badly and comprehensively.
But for the game’s shortest format, and as expected, all the confrontations are expected to be exciting and gripping.
For West Indies they have great encouragement in the batting department but the bowling remains hugely concerned given the fact that they conceded 390 runs from 31 accumulative overs.
The trajectory has to change for this final showpiece. There is an assortment of pacers and spinners in their bowling armory but still West Indies lacked that intimidation much to the consternation of their die-hard aficionados.
Left-arm seamer Sheldon Cottrell, with a reasonable wealth of experience was pummeled for 29 runs in his first and only over while left-arm wrist-spinner Akeal Hosein went for 33 runs in his two opening overs. He was asked to open the bowling and the strategy turned out awful. The aim of the African batsmen was clear and the eventual centurion Quinton deKock flayed them around the park with some scintillating hitting. He made 100!
Alzarri Joseph would have missed for his accuracy and hostility but the void did not fill by Jason Holder, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, skipper Rovaman Powell and Raymond Reifer.
They need that collaborative effort to limit the South Africans and bowl with better tactics especially against the inform legion of batsmen on their familiar pitch.
The batting was resounding though thanks mainly to Johnson Charles who waltzed his way to a flamboyant 118. The right-handed St. Lucian brought his maturity to the fore. Having made his debut in 2011 and with 40 caps, he is set to lead from the front with that terrific show. He is in immaculate form. His innings drew great attention from around the cricketing world. His brilliance was displayed with 10 fours and 11 sixes from 46 balls. He broke Chris Gayle’s record as the fastest West Indian century-maker from just 39 balls. Gayle smashed it in 46 deliveries.
As much as the batting will revolve around Charles, opener Kyle Mayers always shows the penchant for slam-bang as well. He cracked an enterprising 51 which spanned 27 balls inclusive of five fours and four sixes.
Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran and Powell are capable of being belligerent, too and their plucky scores should be inspiring.
With Shepherd fired up in that last memorable game belting four thunderous sixes and a four in his 18-ball stay, his batting will more be reckoned and can be intimidating as he becomes a classical hitter of the white-ball.