ST GEORGE’S, Grenada: Evin Lewis made 71, including a half-century from 22 balls, to steer the West Indies to an eight-wicket win over South Africa on Saturday in the first of five Twenty20s.
South Africa fell short of a par total when it was held to 160-6 from its 20 overs after being sent in.
Lewis took his 71 runs from only 35 balls and shared partnerships of 85 for the first wicket with Andre Fletcher and 39 for the second with Chris Gayle to set up the West Indies win. When he was out in the 12th over, the West Indies were 124-2 and within sight of victory.
Gayle’s and Andre Russells unbroken 37-run partnership for the third wicket carried the West Indies past South Africas total in only 15 overs. Gayle finished 34 not out from 24 balls and Russell was 23 from 12 deliveries.
The West Indies innings included 15 sixes, seven of which were hit by Lewis.
I was confident today and backing my ability, Lewis said. This wicket is excellent for batting, its important to cash in.
We felt they were 30 or 40 runs short because these were excellent conditions. Andre Fletcher and I just tried to get a good start in the power play, most importantly, and then try and build from there to get the victory.
Saturdays match, the first to be played at St Georges in Guyana, was also the first between the West Indies and South Africa since the 2016 Cricket World Cup which the West Indies won. But the West Indies has won only two of its last seven T20 series.
South Africa made a solid start, led by the in-form Quinton de Kock who hit 37 from 24 balls. It was 95-2 in the 11th over, set for a competitive score. But, though Rassie van der Dussen batted through the last half of the innings to make 56 from 38 balls, the innings lost its momentum.
Fabian Allen bowled well early and took 2-18 from four overs and Dwayne Bravo stifled any late rally, taking two wickets with consecutive balls in the 19th over.
Lewis and Fletcher gave the West Indies the perfect start, putting on 85 in only seven overs. Fletcher was looking strong when he was run out taking a bye, beaten by Lungi Ngidis direct hit at the non-strikers end.
Proteas captain Temba Bavuma rotated his bowlers but couldnt constrain the West Indies scoring.
In the absence of Aiden Markram, Bavuma lacked an additional slow option after left-armer George Linde, who opened the bowling, and the wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. He was forced to call on part-timer Reeza Hendricks who hadnt previously bowled in a T20 international.
Hendricks was introduced in the 11th over, when the West Indies was coasting at 93-1 and faced the daunting prospect of bowling to Chris Gayle. The West Indies master blaster hit his first two balls for six and took 21 from his only over.