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South Africa inch closer to semi-finals

June 13, 2009 22:53 IST

- Scorecard

Strong contenders South Africa inched closer to a semi-final berth in the Twenty20 World Cup after a convincing 20-run victory over giant-killers West Indies in a Super Eight match at the Kensington Oval on Saturday.

The South Africans, riding on a rollicking 55 from Herschelle Gibbs, first compiled a competitive 183 for seven and then restricted the West Indies to 163 for nine.

Their sixth consecutive T20 victory, a record of sorts, not only brought an end to the West Indies' giant-killing run but almost assured the Proteas a berth in the semi-finals.

They play their last Group E Super Eight match against India on Tuesday.

Lendl Simmons very nearly took the West Indies to the target with a blistering 50-ball 77 but did not get any support from the other top order batsmen.

His dismissal, with the score 133, off the final ball of the 16th over, signalled the beginning of the end for the West Indies, their last five wickets falling for 26 runs.

Dwayne Bravo (19 off 17) and Suleiman Benn (13 not out off 9) were the other Windies players to get into double figures.

In the end it was yet another convincing performance by the South Africans. The 35-year-old Gibbs -- who scored a 35-ball 55 which contained eight boundaries and a six -- the seasoned Jacques Kallis (45) and captain Graeme Smith (31) were their notable performers.

The South African innings began on a brisk note, with the experienced duo of Smith and Kallis finding the boundaries easy to come by against the West Indies pacemen, who were a trifle erratic in their opening spells.

Smith set the tempo by clobbering Fidel Edwards for two consecutive boundaries in the second over of the match while Kallis also showed his aggressive intent by hammering Jerome Taylor for 16 runs in the next over.

With runs coming easily, West Indies skipper Chris Gayle introduced Dwayne Bravo, the hero in the last match against India, into the attack in the fifth over. But Smith greeted him with three consecutive boundaries.

Smith and Kallis put up a brisk 54 runs for the first wicket before lanky spinner Suleiman Benn provided the breakthrough by getting rid of the dangerous Smith.

The South African captain offered a simple catch to Andre Fletcher at the point region, which brought an end to his 18-ball knock containing six boundaries.

Gibbs, who joined the action after his captain's dismissal, kept the tempo going with a barrage of shots on both sides of the wicket much to the delight of the sizeable South African spectators in the galleries.

Kallis and Gibbs seemed to be in no discomfort on what appeared to be a good batting track as Gayle kept rotating his bowlers in a bid to stem the run flow.

Part-timer Lendl Simmons brought an end to the breezy 51-run partnership by evicting Kallis, who was caught by Kieron Pollard at the fence as he mistimed the shot. His 31-ball 45 was studded with six boundaries and a six.

Gibbs, who seemed in devastating form, completed his half century with a boundary but perished soon after, reducing the Proteas to 136 for three by the 15th over. His effort was studded with eight boundaries and a six.

The Proteas, who were comfortably placed at 155 for three at one stage, lost wickets in quick succession towards the end of their innings as they tried to accelerate the scoring.
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