South Africa withstood a late West Indies fight-back led by Darren Sammy to prevail by 17 runs in the second One-day International on Monday and take a 2-0 lead in the five match series.
The South Africans appeared to be coasting to victory, when West Indies, chasing 301 for victory from their 50 overs, slumped to 236 for eight in the 45th over.
But the Proteas came under attack from Sammy, whose unbeaten 58 from 24 balls contained two fours and six sixes, as he dominated a ninth-wicket stand of 47 with Ravi Rampaul.
South Africa were fortunate however, when fast-medium bowler Ryan McLaren skillfully fielded a drive from Sammy on his follow-through, and Rampaul was run out off the last ball of the 48th over backing up too far.
Graeme Smith, the South African captain, had the privilege of finishing the match, when Kieron Pollard, running for Nikita Miller, was run out off the first ball of the next over, with a direct hit by Smith at the bowler's end from short cover. "We weren't at our best, and we let a few key chances go earlier, which probably could have gone on to cost us the game," said a relieved Smith.
"Outside of our fielding, I think we controlled the game very, very well, and up to Sammy's 58, we were in control, but our fielding, our catching in particular, we need to take another look." The third and fourth ODIs will be contested this coming Friday and Sunday at Windsor Park in the Dominica capital of Roseau.
South Africa conceded three half-centuries to West Indies, with Dwayne Bravo hitting the top score of 74 from 70 balls, and the newly-arrived opener Dale Richards 51 from 85 balls.
The Proteas put West Indies under early pressure, but Richards and Chris Gayle still gave the home team a steady start of 40. South Africa tightened their grip, when they reduced West Indies to 119 for three, but Bravo added 63 for the fourth wicket with Pollard, as the hosts ran into deep trouble, and Sammy nearly carried them over the threshold.
"I have to commend the guys for the effort of chasing 300 runs, and in particular, Darren for giving us a bit of hope at the end," said Gayle. "The middle overs continue to cause our downfall because there are too many dot-balls in that period of our innings, and the run rate creeps up on us, and makes it difficult for the batsmen towards the end."
Earlier, Hashim Amla continued his rich vein of form with 92, and Jacques Kallis supported with 85 to lead South Africa to 300 for five from their 50 overs. Amla struck seven boundaries from 95 balls, and Kallis - playing his 300th ODI - hit four fours from 89 balls in a stand of 79 for the second wicket, after the South Africans chose to bat.
The Proteas benefitted from an opening stand of 89 between Amla and Smith before left-arm spinner Miller bowled the South African captain behind his legs for 37 in the 16th over.
Amla continued to grind away, and reached his 50 from 45 balls with a dab to third man off Bravo before he was caught at mid-wicket off Jerome Taylor in the 32nd over. Kallis, who became only the second South African behind Shaun Pollock to appear in 300 ODIs, and the 15th player overall, turned Rampaul through square leg for a single to reach his half century from 59 balls.
A.B. de Villiers joined him to consolidate South Africa's position with a stand of 71 for the third wicket with Kallis before he was caught inside the long-off boundary for 41 off Kieron Pollard in the 43rd over. In the closing overs, Kallis was caught at point off Pollard in the 47th over, and Alviro Petersen was lbw playing across Taylor for one, as South Africa hunted quick runs.
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