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Cricket
Proteas spring spin surprise
Three-pronged spin attack sends out World Cup warning as South Africa beat West Indies by seven wickets in New Delhi.
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2011 20:53 GMT
Botha, left, celebrates the dismissal of Chris Gayle in just the third ball of the West Indies innings [Reuters]

South Africa gave West Indies a lesson in one-day cricket on Thursday and offered a warning to the rest of the contenders that at last they could follow the twice-champions as World Cup winners.

For a team that have traditionally been suspicious of using spinners, South Africa surprised by naming a three-pronged spin attack in the Group B match at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi and the tweakers did not let them down.

Further surprises awaited as skipper Graeme Smith opened the attack with off-spinner Johan Botha, a move that appeared to inspire his West Indies counterpart Darren Sammy who did the same with left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn.

Botha (2-48) and his Pakistan-born, streaked-hair spin colleague Imran Tahir (4-41) wrecked in tandem, while pacer Dale Steyn devoured the tail to skittle out West Indies for 222 inside the 48th over.

AB de Villiers (107 not out) made it look like a cakewalk, smashing the fastest century in a World Cup by a South African before heading to the physio's room to get some treatment for a back spasm.

More than a statement of the impeccable balance of their squad, tactical brilliance was the hallmark of South Africa's clinical victory.

Smith put in West Indies on a re-laid track at a stadium hosting its first match after serving a one-year ban for the poor condition of its pitch and at the same time ensured if evening dew became a factor, it would not be South Africa who would find themselves struggling with it.

Masterstroke

Opening with Botha was a masterstroke as it negated Chris Gayle and Smith revealed the thought that went behind the move.

"(West Indies had) two left-handers up front, I was thinking it as an option. Sometimes you come up with things and if it works out, it's a great feeling. It was one of those days," Smith said of his decision to open with Botha.

Sporadic use of leg-spinner Tahir also served the team well.

"I tried to use him in short spells and get the timing right. He responded superbly, took key wickets and every time he came on, he made the impact."

West Indies captain Darren Sammy rued losing wickets at crucial times but still managed to see a silver lining in the comprehensive defeat.

"We reached 222 without Chris, me or (Kieron) Pollard contributing. If we could contribute, things could have been different."

Losing Dwayne Bravo midway through the match because of a knee injury seriously compromised their bowling and a scan on Friday should reveal the extent of the problem.

Source:
Reuters
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