NORTH SOUND: A career-best spell from Ryan McLaren bowled South Africa to a 13-run victory in the first of two Twenty20 Internationals against West Indies.
McLaren captured five wickets for 19 runs to earn the man-of-the-match award, as West Indies, chasing 137 for victory, were dismissed for 123. The 27-year-old McLaren finished with the second-best figures in a Twenty20 international behind Pakistan’s Umer Gul, who collected five for six from three overs against New Zealand in 2009. McLaren said, “We all know Twenty20 cricket. The bowler is always up against it.
You can take five wickets one day and the next day, take a thumping, but I enjoyed it today.” South Africa captain Graeme Smith admitted it was a difficult pitch to bat on. “It was not an easy day for the batsmen, and you had to graft hard. It was nice to start with a win. The energy has been good and a lot of new faces have come in.” Earlier, Jacques Kallis struck one four and three sixes to score 53 off 45 balls, as South Africa laboured to 136 for seven from their 20 overs, after opting to bat on an uneven pitch. He added 73 for the second wicket with Smith, whose 37 from 31 balls included three fours and one six.
McLaren then ensured that the West Indies did not recover after he had the openers Chris Gayle and Andre Fletcher before getting the dangerous Kieron Pollard for 27. The fast bowler then cleaned up the remaining Windies tail to finish with five wickets and was ably supported by Johan Botha, who claimed two wickets for 27. West Indies captain Chris Gayle said, “We have a lot of corrections to make, and we have to return to the drawing board to try and get the best out of the players.”
Published in the Express Tribune, May 21st, 2010.