Lendl Simmons was a hapless opener as the West Indies tasted another hefty ICC T20 World Cup defeat, with South Africa inflicting an eight wicket defeat on the defending champions in Dubai today (26 October).
The Trinidad veteran’s remarkable 61-minute stay at the crease resulted in just 16 runs from 35 deliveries, his total amassed only from singles inside the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
But the pitch was not to blame for Simmons’ showing, as Evin Lewis’ quickfire knock of 56 and captain Kieron Pollard’s 20 towards the end of their innings proved.
Simmons now holds the joint record – with Scotland’s Matthew Cross and Bangladesh’s Alok Kapali – for facing the highest amount of balls (35) in a T20 World Cup innings without hitting a boundary.
And his pitiful innings is the second-slowest recorded in T20I, trailing India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni who hit just nine off 27 balls against Australia in 2008.
After Lewis was punished for an ambitious shot, which he pulled to Kagiso Rabada at deep midwicket for a straightforward catch off the bowling of Keshav Maharaj, it was Nicholas Pooran and surprisingly not Chris Gayle who arrived at no.3.
But Pooran was soon back in the pavilion with just 12 runs to his credit from seven balls, another Maharaj victim and caught by David Miller at long off.
Gayle arrived to a grand fanfare, especially as he was the sole West Indian to hit double figures in the collapse against England in the last T20 defeat, yet he too only made a dozen runs.
Fortunately Pollard led by example. After he was dismissed the reigning champions crumbled once more with Andre Russell, Shimron Hetmyer and Hayden Walsh all failing to impress with the bat as the side settled for 143-8 from their allotted 20 overs.
This was billed as a clash of the power hitters, although South Africa were favourites to win having this year registered a 3-2 T20I series success in the Caribbean.
South Africa, keen to bounce back from their five wicket T20 defeat to Australia, were in early trouble in the opening over from Akeal Hosein with the foolish run out of Temba Bavuma.
Bavuma replaced star wicketkeeper-batsman Quintion de Kock, who was omitted for his refusal to take a knee before matches like the rest of his team-mates, tried to snatch a quick yet risky single. But Russell at mid on was alert and accurate enough with his direct hit to claim a vital wicket.
But then South Africa showed once more why the Dubai pitch is always highly lucrative for the side batting second. Fellow opener Reeza Hendricks was on fire with 39 from 30 balls, but was caught by Hetmyer off Hosein.
It was left to Aiden Markram (51no) and Rassie van der Dussen (43no) to chase the target, which they did with aplomb as they steered the team to 144-2 off 18.2 overs.
Disappointed Pollard admitted: “Obviously just a matter that we have not scored enough runs.
“I thought the first six overs, the end result of 43 without loss, we would have taken that. We wanted to keep that momentum going but we lost a couple of wickets, so it was disappointing today.”
This second T20 World Cup defeat for the Windies means that their three remaining group fixtures are critical to not bow out at the early stages. They will lock horns with Bangladesh on Friday (29 October) and Sri Lanka (4 November) before facing the might of Australia (6 November).
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