South Africa beat West Indies by 7 wickets

South Africa pulled several rabbits out of the hat to leave the West Indies stunned and confused on Thursday. First off, they opted for three lead spinners in debutant Imran Tahir, Johan Botha and Robin Petersen. They left everyone guessing by opting to field first on a pitch which is coming off a 14-month suspension, and then waited on the one batsman who is familiar with this ground - AB De Villiers, formerly of the Delhi Daredevils to come to the party. De Villiers thankful with a sublime, unbeaten 107 (105b, 8x4, 2x6) after SA had been reduced to 20/2 chasing 223. In the end, SA cantered home by seven wickets with 43 balls remaining.

Every tactical move was unorthodox and paid off well. The spinners rose to the challenge, with leggie Tahir picking up four wickets on debut. Smith opted to open with Botha and he got Chris Gayle off his third delivery. Dale Steyn picked up three wickets too and supported the spinners well along with Morne Morkel as the pacers adjusted their lengths well. The close-in fields to the spinners kept the West Indian big hitters on a leash. Skipper Graeme Smith himself played a solid supporting role, contributing to a 119-run partnership with De Villiers.

After a sloppy batting performance in which only rising star Darren Bravo (73 off 82 balls; 8x4, 1x6) stood out along with half-brother Dwayne, the Windies picked a leaf out of SA's book and opened the bowling with Suleiman Benn. It was Kemar Roach, though, who picked up the first wicket, getting the dangerous-looking Hashim Amla to induce a faint inner edge and existing what looked like a marginal over-stepping. Benn got Kallis with a beauty and that set the phase for De Villiers, who played with such casual ease and impeccable timing that the game slipped quickly out of West Indies' grasp. Their bowling simply lacked teeth and once JP Duminy too dug in, all hopes faded.

South Africa's win was set up by Tahir and the other slow bowlers. The Pakistan-born spinner finally got a game and did more than enough to justify his skipper's faith, ending with 4/41.The game was marred by other organizational goof-ups but the Kotla returned from its long exile with the local authorities doing a patch-up job on the infamous strip.

Scorecard:SA vs WI


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