NAGPUR, India, CMC – West Indies captain Darren Sammy has praised his side for the way they responded under pressure to beat South Africa on Friday and clinch their spot in the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup.
West Indies stumbled on a few occasions en route to their target of 123 before finally getting home by three wickets with two balls to spare at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium.
“Today we started off very well. We’ve been getting wickets in the power-play and that’s been putting pressure on the opposition,” Sammy said following the nerve-jangling finish.
“I’m just really excited about my team and the way they have responded every time we’ve been under pressure and today we were under pressure chasing a low total. Every decision we took out there they (players) responded so kudos to the team.
“We’re really going to celebrate this win because it was a really tough win and … we will celebrate now that we’ve qualified for the semi-finals.”
Sent in, the Proteas were restricted to 122 for eight, with opener Quinton de Kock top-scoring with 47.
Chris Gayle emerged as the most unlikely of bowling heroes, taking two wickets early in the piece to help reduce South Africa to 47 for five in the ninth over.
Sammy said the use of Gayle was a strategic move.
“With two left-handers (de Kock and Rilee Roussouw) at the crease, we just backed Chris to do it,” he said.
West Indies then lost Gayle cheaply to the fifth ball of the innings but recovered to be in charge at 66 for two in the 12th over.
However, leg-spinner Imran Tahir snatched two wickets in the 17th over as West Indies stumbled to 114 for seven at the end of the 19th over – needing nine to win off the last over.
Carlos Brathwaite failed to score off the first ball from seamer Kagiso Rabada but blasted the second one over wide long on for six to ease the tension.
Sammy admitted though he appeared calm, the tense finish had left him afflicted by nerves.
“I was smiling because of the position the game was in but inside, there were a few butterflies in there,” he joked afterward. “We came here to take one step and to qualify and we’ve done that so we’re really happy.”