Pollock farewell match ends in victory

There were cheers and tears as Herschelle Gibbs hit a century and helped South Africa cruise to a eight-wicket victory over the West Indies in the fifth MTN one-day international on Sunday, as thousands of fans flocked to the Wanderers to say goodbye to Shaun Pollock, who was playing his last match in green and gold.

South Africa won the series 5-0.

South Africa won the toss and sent the West Indies in to bat. The visitors started like an express train, with Devon Smith and Shivnarine Chanderpaul putting on 137 off 138 balls for the second wicket. The brittle middle order collapsed again, but a partnership of 53 off 33 deliveries between rookie Patrick Browne and Rawl Lewis saw the West Indies record the highest score of the series — 295 for seven.

Chasing 296 to win, South Africa lost the wicket of Graeme Smith in the third over when he played on to a ball from Daren Powell for five. Four overs later, the rain came and the players left the field for 65 minutes.

The resumption after the rain break became somewhat farcical as one of the super-soppers ran out of petrol and was left stranded in the middle of the field, with the players already back on the ground. Play was interrupted again nine minutes later and when it was resumed, South Africa had been given a revised target of 211 off 31 overs at nearly eight runs a ball.

Herschelle Gibbs and Jacques Kallis took up the challenge. The Proteas’ first 50 came off 61 balls, but the next 50 took just 26. Gibbs, in particular, punished the West Indies batsmen, but the two senior Proteas players showed urgency and commitment, turning ones into twos and bringing the required rate down to less than a run a ball.

Gibbs, who showed signs in Durban on Friday of returning to the form that has made him one of South Africa’s most exciting batsmen, went to his 34th one-day international 50 off 47 balls, and his 20th century off 80 balls, including 13 fours and three sixes. Kallis also took 47 balls to get to his 36th 50, hitting six boundaries.

As if scripted, Gibbs lost his wicket with 26 runs needed for victory and Pollock came in to ecstatic roars from the crowd; fittingly, it was he who hit the winning runs. He did a lap of honour as his teammates lined up to say farewell. He was then carried shoulder high to the presentation ceremony.

Although it was Gibbs and Kallis who batted South Africa to victory, the day belonged to Pollock. He received a standing ovation as he led the team out at the start of the day. Many spectators had banners celebrating his career and the scoreboard showed hundred of SMSs of congratulations and good luck.

When the time came for him to bowl his final over for South Africa, the crowd rose to a man and the cheers could almost have been heard in his home town of Durban.

Each delivery was greeted with another roar, and there were probably few dry eyes in the stadium when the final ball was bowled. His match figures were one for 33 — by far the best figures of the day — and he ended his international career with a total of 393 wickets in 303 one-day internationals.

He also bowled a world-record total of 313 maiden overs. No other bowler in world cricket has bowled more than 300 maidens. — Sapa

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