South Africa are hanging on by the proverbial thread after a loss to the West Indies in the ICC World T20 2016. Needing a win to keep qualification to the semifinals in their own hands, the South Africa batsmen floundered on a decent Nagpur pitch, allowing the West Indies to pick up a nervy victory, which sealed their spot in the last four.
West Indies are now virtually guaranteed top spot as well in Group 1, provided they win their final group match against Afghanistan as expected. South Africa must rely on the result of the match between England and Sri Lanka Saturday. If England beat Sri Lanka, both SL and South Africa will be knocked out.
Putting South Africa in to bat, the West Indies bowlers, led by none other than Chris Gayle (3-0-17-2), kept South Africa to a total of just 122/8. In reply, West Indies did not go slam-bang from ball one, as Gayle fell early, and South Africa made a real game of it, taking wickets at regular intervals to push the chase right to the final over.
In that final over, West Indies, with three wickets in hand, needed nine runs for victory and IPL's new flavour of the season â€“ Carlos Brathwaite (10, 10b, 1x6) â€“ and Denesh Ramdin held his nerve against the considerable powers of Kagiso Rabada to see West Indies home with two balls to spare.
Gayle was dismissed in the fifth ball of the innings by Kagiso Rabada, who bowled an absolute peach to knock off the left-hander's offstump. However, South Africa could not continue the wicket-taking trend after that Gayle dismissal, with Andre Fletcher and Johnson Charles just steadying that West Indies ship enough.
Their partnership of 29 runs at better than a run-a-ball chugged West Indies along, and while Fletcher (11, 11b, 1x6) fell to some brilliant fielding by Rilee Rossouw, Charles and Marlon Samuels kept the scoreboard moving along nicely.
A partnership of 32 from Samuels and Charles (32, 35b, 2x4, 1x6) was followed by one of 21 by the former and Dwayne Bravo, and when Bravo fell to Aaron Phangiso in the final ball of the 14th over, West Indies needed exactly 36 from 36 balls.
South Africa now had hopes of pulling off an improbable win, much like India did against Bangladesh, with those hopes only growing when Imran Tahir (4-0-13-2) picked up two wickets in two balls â€“ of Russell and Darren Sammy â€“ to leave the West Indies needing 23 from the final three overs.
A brilliant 18th over from David Wiese, where he conceded just three runs, meant WI needed 20 from 12, but with Samuels (43, 44b, 6x4) at the crease the team from the Caribbean were still the favourites.
The right-hander struck two boundaries, both to the third man boundary, off Morris in the penultimate over to cut the target further, but off the fifth ball of that same over, he holed out in the deep, leaving West Indies needing nine from the final over, which Brathwaite and Ramdin managed to score well enough.
Earlier, South Africa's big plans of batting first and putting on a big score on the board went awry as one batsman after another threw away their wicket. Hashim Amla was the first to go, run out after a misunderstanding with Quinton de Kock, the only batsman who showed some king of composure out there in the middle.
The skipper Faf Du Plessis fell in the second over, chipping one to Sulieman Benn off the bowling of Russell, before Rilee Rossouw gifted his wicket away to Gayle. The wily offspinner would pick up the wicket of David Miller as well, castling the left-hander with a nice delivery, with AB De Villiers falling an over before that, after playing one on off the bowling of Bravo (4-0-20-2), who was, again, outstanding with the ball.
South Africa were 47/5 in 8.2 overs at the fall of Miller's wicket, and had it not been for the 50-run partnership of De Kock (47, 46b, 3x4, 1x6) and David Wiese (28, 26b, 2x4), South Africa would have been bowled out for a score well below 100.
However, while 122 meant a good contest, it just wasn't enough to see South Africa home.
Watch all the highlights of the match HERE