South Africa team celebrating a wicket. ©ICC

South Africa sneaked over the line in a last over thriller to draw the five-match Twenty-20 series. West Indies led the series 2-0 when the third Twenty-20 was abandoned due to rain. South Africa then won the subsequent two matches to tie the series. In the final match, the tourists won by three wickets, with only one ball to spare.

South Africa won the toss and sent in the hosts to bat first. Windies openers Natasha McLean and Hayley Matthews got their team off to a solid start with their 42 run opening partnership. McLean (23 off 33) was the first wicket to fall, bowled by a beautiful delivery by Zintle Mali that ripped out the middle stump. Skipper Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin were dismissed two overs later, off consecutive deliveries of Saarah Smith.

Shemaine Campbelle then came to the crease. Her blitzy 28 off 17 in hers’ and 53 run partnership with Matthews gave the innings some momentum as the run rate began to rise. Campbelle was well caught on the boundary by Mignon du Preez which brought Marissa Aguilleira to the crease. She played a handy cameo of 14* off 10, supporting Matthews who seemed to have found a new gear.

Marizanne Kapp, one of the most economical bowlers going around, was thrown the ball by her skipper in the 19th over. Matthews took her for 25 runs in that over, which included two maximums and two fours and brought up her half-century in the process! She played a really smart game, taking time to settle in before smashing the ball on her way to a 52-ball-70. West Indies posted a challenging score of 155-5 on the board.

It would be the highest successful run chase in the West Indies. South African openers Laura Wolvaardt (23 off 13) and Player of the Match Lizelle Lee (42 off 24) got their team off to a flier of a start. The fourth over saw an interesting battle between Wolvaardt and Matthews. Wolvaardt took 16 runs off the over but Matthews triumphed as Wolvaardt edged the last delivery to the keeper and was given out.

Once the wicket of Lee fell, their was a big shift of momentum-one of many- in the favour of West Indies. From 1-67, South Africa went to 4-84. Mignon du Preez (25 off 21) and skipper Chloe Tryon (31 off 27) then swung the game back in their favour with 34 run stand. When du Preez was stumped off the bowling of Anisa Mohammed, it looked as if the hosts were on top again. But, Tryon and incoming batter Kapp had other plans. The two further added 40 runs to the total before Tryon was brilliantly caught by Shamilia Connell off the bowling of Dottin in the 19th over.

South Africa required just three off the last over. Kapp took a single off the first ball, which brought Smith to the crease. Smith had not faced a single delivery yet. The next ball was a dot, then Smith took a single and Kapp was back on strike. One required off three. Kapp skied the following ball, McLean called for the catch but misjudged it. At the last moment, she bent backwards a bit and managed to hang on to the ball. Kapp had to go for 18 off 17. Smith was back on strike as the batters had crossed. She hit the ball straight to Taylor and ran as Taylor fired in a throw at the stumps that narrowly missed. A direct hit would have seen her out but, since the bails were not dislodged, the run counted and South Africa won.

South Africa won with one ball to spare, drawing both the ODI and Twenty-20 series. McLean was named Player of the Series for finishing as the highest run scorer.

Though there were positive signs from both teams, they do have some work to do before the World Twenty-20 next month. If matches of the World Twenty-20 shape up to be as exciting as this one, we are in for a thoroughly enjoyable tournament.