Ball One – South Africa are not known for their imagination, and it’s probably not so imaginative to open with Johan Botha’s spin, but credit to Graeme Smith for trying something not quite expected. Chris Gayle can’t have faced spin first up very often and one prod later, he wasn’t facing spin first up any more. Perhaps South Africa will embrace a future comprising eleven davidhusseys too.
Ball Two – It’s orthodox thinking to take the bowling powerplay straight after the mandatory first ten overs, but fielding captains may wish to be more strategic by examining the batting order and identifying batsmen unsuited to powerplay cricket. Come the 25th over, Smith had Sarwan and Chanderpaul new to the crease – surely the ideal time to take the bowling powerplay, but by then it was gone.
Ball Three – Having failed to win five World Cups with pace, South Africa have opted for spin in this match and dismissed the top four West Indies batsmen with the slower stuff. Halfway through their first innings in this tournament is too soon to draw conclusions about the strategy, but it’s looking good so far. Should a side be chosen, not according to the talent available, but according to a formula – eg one hard-hitting opener + one anchor + two hitters + one nurdler + one finisher + one batsman / keeper + one batsman / slow bowler + one slow bowler / batsman + two opening bowlers.
Ball Four – On paper, West Indies have a strong batting line-up, with experience (Gayle, Chanderpaul and Sarwan) complemented by power (both Bravos and Pollard), but there is a lack of belief which manifests itself in a fragility that goes to eleven. Since their long decline from the pinnacle of the game a generation back, no side has looked more likely to lose wickets in bunches – no matter what format of the game.
Ball Five – South Africa started as though they were chasing 223… but in a T20I rather than an ODI. With a West Indies attack not noted for its discipline, why such experienced players as Amla, Kallis and Smith were so keen to get on with it before acclimatising themselves to the pace of the wicket and conditions under lights was beyond my ken. Perhaps the World Cup does things to South Africans – we know it has in the past.
Ball Six – Bad signs for West Indies. Having been in a decent position when Smith and Bravo were motoring, just a few overs later, the initiative was back with the men in green. After knocking over Amla and Kallis cheaply, once again just a few overs, this time from AB de Villiers with the bat, was enough to knock the self-belief out of Sammy’s men. Losing Dwayne Bravo was a blow, but the difference between these sides was much more than one man.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.