Tabraiz Shamsi enhanced his reputation as the top T20 bowler in the international game by inspiring South Africa to a thrilling one-run victory over the West Indies in the third of their five-match series at the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada on Tuesday.
Defending another moderate total of 167 for eight after they were put in to bat for the third time in the series, the left-arm wrist spinner bowled his most economical four-over spell in conceding just 13 runs for the important wickets of Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer.
Yet as well as he bowled, and as much as the vaunted West Indies power-hitters stuttered for the second consecutive match, the duel still came down to the final over bowled by Kagiso Rabada with 15 runs needed.
Fabian Allen struck an early boundary and then a six off the last ball of the match but the pacer had held his nerve in between those wayward deliveries to limit the home side to 166 for seven.
South Africa now take a 2-1 lead going into the fourth match at the same venue on Thursday.
Lewis and Nicholas Pooran were the joint-topscorers for the West Indies with 27 while Andre Russell contributed 25.
“We faced a lot of criticism after we lost the first match so badly so I am really proud of how we have fought back in the last two matches,” said Shamsi after receiving the man-of-the-match award.
“These pitches are getting harder and harder to score runs and while I would have obviously liked a bigger total to defend, I felt we had a good chance once we stuck to our plans, and on this occasion, it all worked out well for us in the end.”
Earlier Obed McCoy and veteran Dwayne Bravo combined for seven wickets as South Africa faltered from a promising position.
Quinton de Kock, playing in his 50th T20 International, led the Proteas batting effort once again with a topscore of 72 while Rassie van der Dussen contributed 32 and Aiden Markram, brought into the middle order at the expense of Heinrich Klaasen, chipped in with 23.
However, it was the 24-year-old Vincentian McCoy who stole the show with his assortment of cleverly-disguised deliveries earning the seamer the impressive figures of four for 22, bettering his haul of three for 25 just two days earlier.
Bravo, again charged with the responsibility of bowling in the final overs of the innings, made his experience under pressure count in taking two late wickets to finish with three for 25.
After McCoy removed opener Reeza Hendricks and captain Temba Bavuma in the fifth over, de Kock put on 43 with Markram and 60 with van der Dussen to put South Africa in position for a total closer to the 180-run mark.
However de Kock’s demise to Bravo, for an innings which came off 51 balls and included two sixes and five fours, triggered a slide from 147 for three in the 16th over with the tourists losing five wickets for 17 runs.