West Indies vs South Africa 3rd T20I Preview: The quandary facing WI - temper aggression or go for broke
You live by the sword, you die by the sword. The fact cannot be truer for West Indies, given their performances in the first two T20Is.
Worked wonders in series opener
The team went out all guns blazing the 1st T20I and crushed the South African bowling attack so much so that they chased down the target of 161 from just 15 overs and won in thumping fashion with as many as five overs to spare.
None of their batsmen had a strike rate of under 130, and this is the brand of cricket that West Indies want to play. Captain Kieron Pollard said after the match that this is exactly how West Indies wanted to bat.
And, why wouldn't you, with a batting lineup packed with power hitters? West Indies had Nicholas Pooran, Kieron Pollard, Jason Holder, Dwayne Bravo and Fabian Allen still to come and even if the score had been close to 250, the team was capable enough to chase it down.
Backfired in 2nd T20I
The scenario in the first half of the second T20I was more or less the same as the series opener. South Africa batted first and scored 160 odd, which shouldn't have been a big deal given the big hitters in the Windies line-up.
However, there was one major difference in the conditions. The pitch on which the match was played was the same as the 1st T20I and naturally, it got slower and the ball did not come that quickly onto the bat.
As a result, it was more like 185 and not 166, after accounting for the slow nature of the surface.
West Indies though hardly changed their approach and came out swinging. Evin Lewis started from where he had left and smashed 21 runs to help West Indies past 30 from the first three overs. Then, he misjudged the length from the over the wicket angle from Anrich Nortje and was castled.
Things began to change for the West Indies from there on. Chris Gayle was dismissed off a leading edge by Kagiso Rabada. The wickets of Nicholas Pooran, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell followed soon after and just like this, the engine room of the West Indies batting order was dismissed without contributing much.
The team did go through a building phase with Jason Holder and Andre Fletcher doing well. However, Fletcher being caught right at the boundary and Holder run out from a brilliant throw from Temba Bavuma, the West Indies lower order was left with a bit too much to do in the final overs.
Fabian Allen did show his ability, smashing 34 off just 12 balls at a strike rate of 283, but even that was not enough for West Indies as they went on to lose the match by 16 runs.
Shamsi and Linde do the damage
Kagiso Rabada ended up as the highest wicket taker for the side with three wickets while giving away 37 runs, but the bowlers who won South Africa the match were spinners George Linde and Tabraiz Shamsi in the middle overs.
While Shamsi was South Africa's best bowler in the 1st T20I as well, George Linde went for 24 of his two overs and was under pressure. He went back to the basics and took the ball across the left handers. Linde got the rewards and finished with two wickets while conceding just 19 runs and received the Player of the Match award.
The quandary facing WI
The third T20 will be crucial for West Indies given the bigger picture of the T20 World Cup as they'll have to decide whether they want to go with the same no-holds-barred approach or temper their aggression in the middle order and rotate the strike a bit more to build an innings.
Going all guns blazing may bring out some exceptional cricket on days, but collapses like the one in the 2nd T20I on other days.
Here's a look at the probable playing XIs:
West Indies - Evin Lewis, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, Jason Holder, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Fabian Allen, Kevin Sinclair, Obed McCoy
South Africa - Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, George Linde, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi
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