Pollock’s farewell starts in victory

Shaun Pollock’s farewell tour of South Africa started in triumph when he steered his team to victory in a Twenty20 international against the West Indies at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday.

Pollock top-scored with 36 not out off 25 balls as South Africa won by four wickets with four balls to spare.

South Africa were outsiders when they slumped to 77 for six in bowler-friendly conditions, still needing 55 to win in 6.1 overs.

But man-of-the match Pollock, who has announced he will retire after a five-match one-day series that starts in Centurion on Sunday, shared an unbeaten 57-run partnership with Albie Morkel, who made 28 not out.

South Africa still needed 21 off the last two overs, but Pollock hit the first two balls of the 19th over from off-spinner Marlon Samuels for six and the target suddenly became easy.

”I managed to hit a few in the screws, which is always nice,” said Pollock. ”I thought Albie played well and the boys played well generally.”

Captain Graeme Smith praised the veteran all-rounder. ”Shaun has finished many games for us and he did it beautifully tonight,” he said.

The West Indies made 131 for seven after being sent in on a pitch that gave considerable help to the seam bowlers.

Stand-in captain Dwayne Bravo made a hard-hit 24 off 17 overs with two sixes, but extras contributor most to the total with 29, including a remarkable 15 byes.

With the ball swinging and moving prodigiously off the seam, the West Indies were in deep trouble at 79 for six in the 15th over, but Bravo’s attacking innings and some audacious running for byes when the ball beat the bat enabled them to reach a competitive total.

”It was a good wicket to bowl on and I knew we just needed one good partnership,” added Smith, who warned South Africa would have to raise their game in the one-day series. ”We need to get back to the basics in this format of the game. We’ll have a good chat and a good workout tomorrow and get ready for Sunday.”

Rain during the afternoon made it seem unlikely that play would start on time, but there was a break in the weather at the time of the toss.

It was the second 20-overs international of the tour.

The West Indies won by five wickets in a game reduced to 13 overs a side in Port Elizabeth in December before the Test series, which South Africa won by two matches to one.

Pollock claimed the wicket of Rawl Lewis to finish with 15 wickets in 12 Twenty20 internationals — more than any other bowler in the shortest form of the game.

South Africa’s pace-bowlers posed problems for the batsmen, but off-spinner Justin Ontong conceded 25 runs off two overs, including both Bravo’s sixes.

Chris Gayle, the West Indies tour captain, had still not recovered from a broken thumb and the side was captained by Bravo, who had led the side in the third and final Test in Durban. — Sapa-AFP

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