Hashim Amla’s skill was shining like a diamond in the Centurion gloom as his unbeaten half-century gave South Africa a solid platform on a SuperSport Park pitch on which steep bounce made batting hard in the fifth Momentum One-Day International against the West Indies on Wednesday.
Amla had moved to 54 not out off 52 balls, taking South Africa to 114 for two after 21 overs, midway through their innings in a match reduced to 42 overs a side due to rain.
The West Indies had won the toss and unsurprisingly elected to bowl first after bad weather wiped out two-and-a-half hours of play, and their pacemen were able to extract awkward bounce, some of it inconsistent, to trouble the South African top-order.
Cross-batted leg-side shots cost both Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis their wickets, while Rilee Rossouw was enjoying a few lives as he battled to 24 not out off 40 deliveries with just one boundary.
De Kock, playing his first game for the Proteas since doing his ankle ligaments at the same ground in mid-December, had just one scoring stroke, a lofted square-drive for four off Sheldon Cottrell, before Jason Holder removed him with his third delivery of the match.
De Kock tried to pull a shortish delivery away on the leg-side but could only splice the ball, sending a simple catch looping on the off-side.
Du Plessis hung around for 27 balls, hitting two fours, as he and Amla added a run-a-ball 53 for the second wicket, before Andre Russell banged one in head-high, a top-edged hook landing in fine leg’s hands. South Africa’s T20 captain was out for 16.
Rossouw, the ultimate in feast or famine batting it seems, came to the crease in the 11th over in the number four position, the return of De Kock having shifted him out of the opening berth.
The left-hander was not always fluent at the crease, but he enjoyed some of the luck which has previously not been with him in the 13 other innings of his ODI career.
Seamer Carlos Brathwaite was the best of the West Indian bowlers, joining the attack in the ninth over and immediately dropping the run-rate with a tight line on the off stump, just 18 runs coming from the 26-year-old’s six-over spell.