(CMC) A scintillating unbeaten cameo at the back end from all-rounder Romario Shepherd and an outstanding career-best five-wicket haul by fast bowler Alzarri Joseph, combined to fire West Indies to a seven-run victory and their first Twenty20 International series win over South Africa in nearly a decade here today.
The victory gave the Windies a 2-1 lead in the best-of-three series.
Stuttering on 161 for eight in the 16th over at the Wanderers, West Indies were bailed out by the 28-year-old Shepherd who belted two fours and three sixes in a brazen, unbeaten 44 not out from just 22 balls, to propel the innings to an impressive 220 for eight in the end.
The game was then in the balance with South Africa on 186 for three at the end of the 18th over courtesy of opener Reeza Hendricks’s 83 from 44 deliveries, before Joseph (5-40) removed the top-scorer – one of his three wickets in the penultimate over – as the hosts came up short.
For West Indies, the series win allowed them to salvage some joy from a tour which a 2-0 defeat in the Test series and a One-Day International series that was drawn 1-1.
“I think after the last game the guys were disappointed and we took all the positives from that game and came and tried to implement it [today],” said West Indies captain Rovman Powell.
“After being under pressure today with some stumbles in the middle [order] I think the way Shepherd and Alzarri batted in the end was fantastic, and Alzarri came back in the middle [of the run chase] and got some wickets for us. All around [it was a] pleasing effort.”
Asked to bat first in the decisive third T20I, West Indies were given a buoyant start by Brandon King who lashed 36 from 25 balls in a 39-run stand with left-hander Kyle Mayers who made 17.
West Indies lost wickets in successive deliveries in the fourth over, however, Mayers and Player-of-the-Series Johnson Charles (0) both bowled by seamer Kagiso Rabada (2-50),
King, who struck four fours and two sixes, then put on an important 55 for the third wicket with former captain Nicholas Pooran whose 41 required 19 balls and included a brace of fours and four sixes.
But both were part of a slide which saw three wickets tumble for 16 runs in the space of 12 balls, and even though all-rounders Raymon Reifer (27) and Jason Holder (13) added 31 for the sixth wicket, West Indies stumbled again with three wickets going down for 20 runs off 17 deliveries.
Entered Shepherd, the right-hander blasting West Indies out of trouble and past the 200-run mark for the second straight game, in an invaluable 59-run, unbroken ninth wicket stand off 26 balls with Joseph who finished 14 not out.
Needing to score at a shade over 11 runs per over, South Africa’s chase was spearheaded by the 33-year-old Hendricks, who thumped 11 fours and two sixes in posting 32 for the first wicket with Quinton de Kock (21), 80 for the second wicket with Rilee Rossouw (42), 37 for the third with David Miller (11) and a further 37 for the fourth wicket with captain Aiden Markram (35 not out).
Joseph struck the first blow in the fifth over when he had de Kock taken on the fence at deep point by Roston Chase, before returning to remove the dangerous Miller in the 15th, holing out to Sheldon Cottrell at long on.
The key over came with the game in the balance and the Proteas requiring 35 runs from the last 12 balls.
Joseph got Hendricks to tug the first delivery – a low full toss – head height to Powell at long on before prising out Heinrich Klaasen (6) with the third ball to a catch at third man by Cottrell.
Off the fifth ball, Joseph removed Wayne Parnell’s off-stump spectacularly, tilting the game in West Indies’ favour, with South Africa then needing 27 from the final over.