Markram, Mulder star in South Africa's series win
South Africa 168 for 4 (Markram 70, Edwards 2-19) beat West Indies 143 for 9 (Lewis 52, Ngidi 3-32) by 25 runs
South Africa won their first T20I series since March 2019, and first in six series, by successfully defending the highest total of the five-match series against West Indies in Grenada. The victory earns coach Mark Boucher and captain Temba Bavuma their first T20I trophy and means South Africa will leave the Caribbean triumphant in both the Test and T20I series.
After choosing to bat first, South Africa posted 168 for 4 thanks largely to the continued excellence of Quinton de Kock and his acceleration in the middle-overs. De Kock brought up his third successive half-century of the series, and saw South Africa through a 49-run Powerplay and most of the period between the 7th and 15th over, in which they scored 89 runs at 9.66. He put together 128 for the second wicket with Aiden Markram, who top scored with 70.
That proved to be the difference against a misfiring West Indian line-up. Tabraiz Shamsi turned in his most economical effort (four overs for 11 runs) while Kagiso Rabada and Wiaan Mulder conceded less than eight runs an over to ensure West Indies could not keep up with the required scoring rate. Notably, South Africa rebalanced their side to ensure they had six, frontline bowling options, including a seam-bowling allrounder, and that strategic change worked well.
South Africa have now won three of the 11 T20I series where the final game has effectively been a decider. Meanwhile, West Indies have won just three of their last 10 T20I series, one against Bangladesh and two against Sri Lanka.
Highest partnership of the series
South Africa tried a different combination in the top three for this match and though Temba Bavuma's promotion to open the batting did not work, Markram made a strong case to be considered the permanent partner to Quinton de Kock. The pair's 128-run stand, the highest of the series for either side, laid the foundation for a total in excess of 180.
Both de Kock and Markram brought up half-centuries; de Kock's was his third in the series and Markram's his fourth in nine T20Is. Impressively, they both scored all around the ground, with Markram's 70-runs an even split of 35 each on the off and on side, with boundaries including his signature cover drive, the cut and aerial shots in the 'v'.
De Kock was stronger square of the wicket, with 28 runs on the off-side and 32 on the leg-side and boundaries mostly on the off-side apart from the slogs off Andre Russell and Akeal Hosein for his two sixes. De Kock's 225 runs are also the most by an individual batter in a bilateral series.
While South Africa would have been pleased to keep things moving through the middle-overs, their concerns around the finishers remain. They scored just 32 runs in the last five overs, and lost Markram and Rassie van der Dussen in that time. David Miller managed his highest score of the series but did not appear entirely confident and faced 14 balls before his only boundary.
Van der Dussen batted lower than usual, at No. 5, and was only needed in the 17th over, which did not give him the time he may have liked to settle. Mulder too didn't look in control with his only boundary coming off a bottom-edge. Overall, South Africa's scoring rate in the last four overs in the series was 6.95, while West Indies struck at 11.43 runs an over in the same period.
Lewis leads for West Indies
True to form, Evin Lewis cleared the boundary off the third ball of the West Indian reply when he hit left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin over his head. That triggered a sensational beginning for the hosts; Lewis would hit two more sixes and five fours in his right T20I fifty, off judst 30 balls.
It was the second slowest fifty of Lewis' T20I career, after his 34-ball fifty against Pakistan in 2017. All his other fifty-plus scores have come in 26 or fewer balls. That may not sound entirely disappointing but Lewis would not have been happy with when and how he was dismissed. In the 10th over, Lewis mistimed an attempted six of Ngidi over long-on and was caught by Markram well inside the boundary.
West Indies' lost plot
South Africa kept West Indies in check in the Powerplay with some sterling efforts in the field, like Lungi Ngidi's full length dive at short fine to stop a Lendl SImmond's flick that was destined for four and Temba Bavuma's dive at mid-wicket to intercept a fierce Lewis pull. But they also put some chances down, some more difficult than others.
Tabraiz Shamsi could not hold on to a return catch in his followthrough off Shimron Hetmyer's leading edge or to the opportunity Hetmyer presented when he swung at a Mulder full toss and sent the ball swirling to short third man. Mulder got his reward off the next two balls though. Markram held on to a simple chance at long-off to dismiss a hamstrung Pollard before took a low, diving catch at point to dismiss Andre Russell for a first-ball duck.
Mulder's third over took West Indies from 103 for 3 to 112 for 5 and left them needing 57 runs off the last five overs to win. West Indies stayed somewhat in the hunt until Bavuma plucked Dwayne Bravo's slice off Kagiso Rabada out of the sky to all but secure the series for South Africa. Bavuma judged the catch perfectly, as he made a lot of ground from point to deep point, and took it cleanly to complete a good day in the field.