St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Matches St George's Park - Oh Pollocks! Windies Lose
Oh Pollocks! Windies Lose
Neale Emslie

THE West Indies committed batting suicide with three run outs as they tossed away a golden opportunity to level the Standard Bank limited overs series against SA at St George’s Park last night, losing the match by 16 runs.

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Following an excellent bowling effort in helpful conditions saw the tourists restrict Graeme Smith’s side to 179 for seven in 50 overs. The Windies were dismissed for 163 with 7.2 overs remaining although the match got decidedly close for the South Africans as Ravi Rampaul (24) and Corey Collymore (12) added 37 for the 10th wicket, the best stand of the innings.

They needed only 17 more to win when Lance Klusener hung on to a low return catch to give SA a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.

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Even one run out in a limited overs game is one too many. Three, including two of your leading batsmen in Brian Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan, is about as bad as it gets.

The run outs said as much for the fine fielding of the South Africans as the atrocious judgment of the Windies batsmen. Two of them were so far out, the umpires didn’t even refer the decisions to the TV official and the third, Sarwan, virtually gave himself out. Lara’s push to mid-off saw Jacques Rudolph race in for a superb pick-up and underhand direct hit; the second saw wicketkeeper Mark Boucher lob a brilliant throw over Sarwan’s head to hit the non-striker’s stumps from a short fine-leg position; and the third came when Ridley Jacobs hopelessly overestimated his speed as he pushed to mid-off where Herschelle Gibbs pounced and bowler Robin Peterson completed the effort.

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In the midst of all this farcical running, Shaun Pollock’s opening burst of 6-2-15-3 tended to be overshadowed. The rain at the weekend and the overcast conditions over the past few days meant the pitch was not the batting paradise normally associated with limited overs matches. South Africa won the toss and batted, but quickly discovered there would be no batting records for most runs scored on the day.

Needing early wickets, Pollock scarcely put a foot wrong as he swiftly whipped out the top three batsmen to reduce the visitors to 29 for three and although there were occasional flutters of revival, the Windies’ appalling judgment of what constitutes a quick single snuffed out any hope of a morale-boosting victory, despite the courageous efforts of the 10th-wicket pair.

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South Africa were forced to work hard for runs after slipping to 57 for three following the loss of Gibbs, Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis.

Even though the scoring rate was not brisk, Jacques Rudolph did some important work in helping Dippenaar (83) add 46 for the fourth wicket and after Mark Boucher went quickly, Shaun Pollock (26) and the Free Stater added a vital 54 in just nine overs for the sixth wicket.

Dippenaar was not always fluent, but, given the circumstances, his knock was invaluable. He reached his 50 off 93 deliveries and then scored at a run a ball for the rest of his innings before perishing as he tried desperately to get South Africa closer to the 200-run mark.

It was, perhaps, a surprise that Smith did not use Lance Klusener higher up the order. The master blaster is at his most destructive when the pressure’s on although the decision to bat him at No 8 probably had more to do with the batting prowess of Boucher and Pollock than any perceived animosity between Smith and the Natalian.

The SA skipper is spoilt for choice as to which batsman to use in the middle to lower order as neither Boucher nor Pollock are hesitant about using the long handle when necessary.

In any event, the West Indies must have been extremely pleased at containing the South Africans to such an extent, even in the helpful conditions. Collymore was outstanding in an opening spell of 7-2-9-1 and picked up a further two wickets in the closing stages, while Mervyn Dillon (10-0-26-1) also gave very little away.

In the end, though, it all proved in vain and South Africa now need just one more win from the remaining three matches to clinch the series.

THE HERALD

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