Overcoming a massive setback when their star opener Quinton de Kock pulled out at the last minute due to his refusal to take the knee to support the BLM movement, an emotionally-charged South Africa thumped the West Indies by eight wickets in Dubai on Tuesday.
While South Africa have done well to bounce back after a defeat to the Aussies in their opener, the West Indies, having lost their first two games in the competition, are now in danger of crashing out early.
Unless they pull up their socks and win all their remaining three games from here, the defending champions, lying at the bottom of Group A with a poor net run rate of -2.55, may be forced to head for the exit door.
The architect of South Africa’s most emotional victory in recent times was Aiden Markram. Walking in with the game in balance with SA at 61 for two in the 10th over chasing 144, Markram provided the right kind of momentum to the innings with a free-flowing, unbeaten 51 off just 26 balls, in an innings studded with four sixes and two fours.
His unbeaten 83-run partnership for the third wicket off merely 57 balls with Rassie Vd Dussen (43; 51b, 3×4), another solid batter in the SA line-up, meant that the Proteas cantered home without much sweat by the 19th over. While his strokes, particularly to the deep mid-wicket and extra cover, were a treat to watch, Markram also chipped in with the ball. After SA surprisingly chose to open the bowling with him, Markram gave away just 22 runs with his part-time off-spin in three overs, including a maiden. His spell would’ve been more economical but for the fact that Evin Lewis got stuck into him in his third over.
Captain of the South African under-19 team that won the World Cup in 2014, Markram was marked as one to watch of the future by India skipper Virat Kohli during India’s 2018 tour of South Africa. The 27-year-old, who recently did well for Punjab Kings in the IPL, is now beginning to realise his potential.
Before Markram took charge, though, it was de Kock’s replacement Reeza Hendricks (39, 30b, 4×4, 1×6), who ensured the Proteas didn’t lose steam after losing skipper Tenda Bavuma (2) in the first over to a direct hit from Andre Russell.