Johannesburg, March 29 (IANS) A career-best 83 off 44 balls by Reeza Hendricks was not enough for South Africa as they fell to a seven-run defeat to West Indies in the decisive third and final T20I at the Wanderers Stadium, here.
The right-hander thumped two sixes and 11 fours in his sparkling innings, before becoming one of Alzarri Joseph’s five victims after falling in the penultimate over as the run-rate began to soar in South Africa’s pursuit of 221.
In the end South Africa finished with 213/6, seven short of what would have been another epic chase as they slipped to a 2-1 series defeat to the West Indies.
At the start, the Proteas tried to follow the trend of the series where the chasing side had won each of the previous two games, with captain Aiden Markram winning the toss and bowling first.
Openers Kyle Mayers (17) and Brandon King (36) provided West Indies with a strong start by putting on 39 in the first 3.2 overs, before Kagiso Rabada (2/50) cleaned up the former and Johnson Charles (0), centurion hero from second T20I at SuperSport Park, in successive deliveries.
King then helped Nicholas Pooran (41 off 19 balls) add 55 for the next wicket to put West Indies in a strong position of 94/2 in the ninth over. When Anrich Nortje (2/36) struck to remove King, the home side began to claw their way back as Lungi Ngidi (2/45) and Markram (1/21) took key wickets to leave the score on 161 for eight in the 16th over.
But then came trouble for the Proteas in the form of all-rounder Romario Shepherd, who bludgeoned an unbeaten 44 off 22 balls, and together with Joseph slamming 14 not out, played big part in an unbroken 61-run stand for the ninth wicket as West Indies reached 220/8, including 26 runs being hit in the final over of the innings.
The chase began well for South Africa thanks to Hendricks and fellow opener Quinton de Kock (21). The pair put on 32 in just over four overs, before the latter holed out to deep point off Joseph in the fourth over.
Next in was Rossouw, who combined for a partnership of 80 alongside Hendricks for the second wicket to ensure South Africa was in the hunt of chasing 221. But once Rossouw and David Miller (11) fell in quick succession, the scoreboard pressure began to build and Hendricks was left with little choice but to throw his bat around.
He went for one shot too many at the start of the 19th over in which Joseph struck thrice to press home the West Indian advantage and finish with 5/40 in his four overs. In the end, it was left to Markram to try and get the 26 runs needed from the final over, but he could hit only 18, giving West Indies the series win.
Brief Scores: West Indies 220/8 in 20 overs (Romario Shepherd 44 not out, Nicholas Pooran 41; Anrich Nortje 2/36, Lungi Ngidi 2/45) beat South Africa 213/6 in 20 overs (Reeza Hendricks 83, Aiden Markram 35 not out; Alzarri Joseph 5/40, Jason Holder 1/42) by seven runs.