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Andre Russell struck a sensational unbeaten half-century as West Indies ended their nine-year wait for a One-Day International victory over South Africa by clinching a nervy one wicket win, with nine balls to spare in the fourth game of the five-match series here Sunday.
The right-hander belted an exciting 64 from 40 deliveries and was one of three batsmen with half-centuries, with vice-captain Marlon Samuels getting a top score of 68 and Darren Sammy, 51, knocks which helped West Indies overhaul their target of 263 at St George’s Park.
West Indies had not beaten South Africa in an ODI since November, 2006 during the Champions Trophy in India, and had gone 16 matches – 15 of these defeats – without a single win.
The triumph also broke the Caribbean side’s miserable losing slump which had seen them fall behind 3-0 in the series, following defeats in Durban, Johannesburg and East London, and gave Jason Holder his first win as captain.
Russell heroics which saw him strike five fours and five sixes, managed to outshine David Miller’s superb unbeaten 130 – his maiden ODI hundred – which lifted the Proteas to 262 for eight after they had been sent in.
South Africa were 76 for four in the 15th over at one stage but rallied through Miller’s innings which comprised 11 fours and three sixes and came from 130 deliveries.
He put on 90 for the fifth wicket with JP Duminy who carved out 43 from 68 balls and added a further 63 for the seventh wicket with tail-ender Wayne Parnell who scored 12.
Captain and seamer Jason Holder bowled well to finish with four for 51 while left-arm seamer Sheldon Cottrell picked up two for 35, after accounting for both openers cheaply.
Cottrell had Rilee Roussouw (4) brilliantly caught low down by Sammy at first slip in the third over at 18 for one and then had Morne van Wyk (18) well taken in front of first slip by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin at 32 for three in the seventh over.
In between, Holder prised out the dangerous Faf du Plessis for four to a brilliant one-handed catch by Ramdin.
Miller and captain AB de Villiers (19) steadied the innings with a stand of 44, before de Villiers got an inside edge through to Ramdin off Russell in the seamer’s third over.
The left-handed Miller then controlled the innings, reaching his half-century off 75 balls with a cover-driven boundary off Cottrell in the 32nd over, before edging the next ball to the third man boundary.
Miller required a further 47 balls to reach three figures with a couple off Holder to long on and then whacked a four and a six – the first maximum of the innings in the 48th over – as South Africa picked up the scoring.
The Proteas gathered 18 runs off the penultimate over bowled by Russell but Holder sent down a brilliant last over which cost just three runs and earned West Indies two wickets, as the tourists finished well.
West Indies then had their run chase set back early when Dwayne Smith was bowled without scoring off the third ball of the innings from seamer Morne Morkel
Chris Gayle followed for ten at the start of the seventh over with the Windies limping along, driving the first ball of off-spinner Duminy’s spell to Farhaan Behardien at cover.
Leon Johnson (18), Ramdin (3) and Jonathan Carter (5) then perished in quick succession, leaving the Windies perilously placed at 73 for five in the 21st over.
Samuels and Sammy came together to post 93 for the sixth wicket, a stand which put the Caribbean side on course for recovery.
While Samuels hit five fours and two sixes off 93 balls, Sammy opened his shoulders to crunch five fours and two sixes off 52 balls, before holing out to de Villiers running back at cover in the 37th over.
Nineteen balls later, Samuels had his leg stump disturbed by seamer Berhardien at 189 for seven in the 40th over but Russell assumed responsibility for the innings, picking off sixes at will down the stretch as wickets fell around him.
The match was still in the balance when Carlos Brathwaite was run out for 11 off the first ball of the 48th, with the Windies 239 for nine and still 24 runs away from victory.
Russell eased the pressure with two consecutive sixes in the same over off left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso and with West Indies needing seven to win at the start of the penultimate over, the Jamaican smashed pacer Kyle Abbott to the point boundary and then cleared the ropes at long on two balls later, to seal an emphatic win.