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Charles’ hundred in vain as Proteas seal record run chase

Published:Monday | March 27, 2023 | 12:26 AM
West Indies batsman Johnson Charles.
West Indies batsman Johnson Charles.
South Africa’s Quinton de Kock.
South Africa’s Quinton de Kock.
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CENTURION, South Africa (CMC):

Johnson Charles slammed a remarkable second Twenty20 International (T20I) hundred to propel West Indies to their highest-ever T20I total, but South Africa made a mockery of the target by completing the highest-ever successful run chase in T20Is to pull off an astonishing six-wicket win here yesterday.

In a clash of heavyweight proportions at SuperSport Park, the Caribbean side stormed to 258 for five from 20 overs, bettering their 245 against India in Fort Lauderdale seven years ago when the right-handed Charles struck 79.

This time around, the 34-year-old belted a career-best 118 from 46 deliveries – the joint second-fastest T20I century – in a 135-run, second-wicket stand with left-hander Kyle Mayers, who blasted 51 from 27 balls, as West Indies recovered from the loss of Brandon King (1) in the first over to gather 62 runs from the first power-play.

However, opener Quinton de Kock counter-punched with a scintillating 100 from 44 deliveries – the joint sixth-fastest-ever century – inspiring an opening stand of 152 with Reeza Hendricks, who lashed 68 from 28 balls, South Africa overhauling their target with seven deliveries to spare.

“It was pretty, pretty crazy. When we’d come off we thought we had enough [at the half-way stage], but credit has to be given to Quinton de Kock and Reeza Henricks. They applied the pressure from ball one and I think we didn’t respond,” said captain Rovman Powell.

“It’s very hard. Fortunately for me I’m used to it now. I think this is like my seventh game around the T20 circuit where my team scored over 240, 245 runs and lost, so I’m quite used to it now.”

The result saw South Africa level the three-match series, 24 hours after they went down by three-wickets in the opener, reduced to 11 overs per side due to rain.

In all, the 517 runs plundered was the most in a T20 game, while the 35 sixes struck also shattered the old record.

“That was a great game to be part of. All in all, I think both teams can appreciate it. We witnessed two really good knocks today and I hope it’s remembered for their sake,” said Proteas captain Aiden Markram.

“Some of the guys said they were 15 short. The guys always believed that if a couple guys get in like Quinny and Reeza did, it was going to come down close to the end.

“So I think a lot of the credit has to go to the two of them getting us off to such a great start and pretty much making the rest of the chase a bit more comfortable.”

Sent in, West Indies lost King to the third ball of the innings, taken low down at slip off seamer Wayne Parnell (2-43). But Charles entered to take command, belting 10 fours and 11 sixes as he raced to his 50 off 23 balls in the eighth over, before reaching triple figures in the 13th over off only 39 balls – the fastest-ever for a West Indies batsman.

Mayers struck five fours and two sixes, but was one of two wickets to fall in the 11th over from seamer Marco Jansen (3-52) with two runs added, and Charles put on a further 40 for the fourth with Powell (28) before going yorked by Jansen in 14th over.

All-rounder Romario Shepherd then galvanised the back end of the innings, striking an 18-ball unbeaten 41 with a four and four sixes, while posting a whirlwind 57 for the fifth wicket with Powell.

South Africa’s run chase was provided with the ideal start by de Kock, the left-hander pummelling nine fours and eight sixes in his maiden T20 hundred, while Hendricks belted 11 fours and two sixes.

Together, they catapulted the hosts to a record 102 off the first power-play and 149 at the half-way mark, representing the most-ever runs from the first 10 overs of a men’s T20I.

De Kock, whose 15-ball half-century was the fastest-ever by a South African, eventually top-edged to wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran in the 11th over, but by then South Africa were in the ascendancy.

And even though they lost three wickets for 41 runs in the space of 12 balls, Markram struck a responsible, unbeaten 38 off 21 balls in an unbroken, fifth-wicket partnership of 43 with Heinrich Klaasen (16 not out) to seal the game.