King and Motie set up opening win for Windies against Proteas

ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup co-hosts West Indies drew first blood in their warm-up series against South Africa with a 28-run win on Thursday in Jamaica after Player-of-the-Match batting from their interim captain Brandon King and steady bowling from left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie set them up.

King, leading the Caribbean side because fellow Jamaican and regular captain Rovman Powell is involved in the knockout stages of the Indian Premier League, hit six sixes and six fours in an electrifying 79 from 45 balls, and the hosts reached 175 for eight after they were put in to bat in the first T20I of the three-match series at Sabina Park.

Motie then defied a career-best 87 off 51 balls from South African opener Reeza Hendricks and bagged three for three for 25 from his allotted four overs before the visitors were dismissed for 147 in 19.5 overs.

Pacer Matthew Forde ended with three for 27 from 2.5 overs, and lanky left-arm pacer Obed McCoy finished with two for 15 from three overs to complete the demolition of the Proteas batting and ensure no batsman other than Hendricks reached 20.

With at least half of their World Cup squad missing either due to IPL commitments or resting after their involvement in the lucrative franchise T20 tournament, the result was a step in the right direction for the Caribbean side, whose aim is to clinch a third T20 world title and become the first to win the global showpiece on home soil.

There are still a few areas of concern for the home team to tidy up in the remaining two matches on Saturday and Sunday at the same venue, but King erasing concerns about his fitness, and Motie proving his usefulness in the middle of the innings were satisfying.

“We are leading in to a World Cup so we want to be playing good cricket going into that,” King said during a post-play interview on TV. “We got the win, so we are happy about that and I think all-round we played well.

“I think I know the conditions very well, and I know that it is easier to bat against the new ball, so you have to try to get a really good start because when the ball gets older it gets more difficult to score, and we saw that in both innings. That was my plan going out there, and I executed it well.”

King added: “At the mid-way point of our innings, I thought we could have gotten 200 or so because we had wickets in hand – but it’s a difficult pitch to bat on when the ball gets older, so we still ended up getting a competitive total.

“I think [Motie] is a very skillful bowler, a very smart bowler. He changes his pace really well and he tries to think ahead of the batsman and executes well most of the time, so he has been a reliable player for us, and we hope he continues into the World Cup.”

King got into stride with a drive through cover for four off left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin in the first over and was dominant from early, reducing typically aggressive opening partner Johnson Charles to a mere spectator.

Charles faced only five balls before he was caught at deep square leg off pace newcomer Ottneil Baartman for one in the fourth over, and he was the only batsman to fall during the Power Play, which ended with West Indies on 64 for one.

King continued to unleash a volley of strokes and brought up the fastest of his nine T20I 50s from 26 balls when he pulled a short ball from pacer Lungi Ngidi to “cow corner” for his sixth four in the final over of the Power Play.

Kyle Mayers was a solid ally for King, and they carried the Caribbean side to 109 for one at the halfway stage, but the interim West Indies captain was caught at short extra cover from a miscued drive off pacer Andile Phehlukwayo in the next over.

King and Mayers put on 79 for the second wicket to propel West Indies to 115 for three, but the rest of the batting of the hosts failed to come to terms with the pitch and disciplined bowling from the Proteas and they lost seven wickets for 66 in the second half of the innings – something that they will need to clean up.

Phehlukwayo was the pick of the South Africa bowlers with three for 26 from his four overs, and Baartman ended with three for 28 from his four overs.

Forde then had talismanic left-hander Quinton de Kock caught behind for four with the second ball of the chase, Roston Chase got Ryan Rickelton stumped for six in the second over, and Shamar Joseph, playing in his maiden T20I, trapped Matthew Breetzke lbw for 19, all inside the Power Play and had the South Africans were wobbling on 46 for three.

But West Indies met resistance when the Proteas captain Rassie van der Dussen and Hendricks shared 42 for the fourth wicket and carried the visitors to 99 for three at the halfway stage.

When Motie trapped van der Dussen lbw for 17 in the next over, a decision confirmed after the batsman reviewed, attempting an ill-advised reverse sweep, that opened the floodgates, and only Hendricks, whose lusty hitting intensified in the closing stages, could offer South Africa a lifeline. (CMC)