Hail King: Stand-in captain's 79 guides Windies to 28-run win over SA on successful return to Sabina Park

By May 23, 2024
Brandon King made 79 off 45 balls. Brandon King made 79 off 45 balls. file

It was a welcome return of international cricket to Sabina Park, even moreso for stand-in captain Brandon King, who led from the front as West Indies downed South Africa by 28 runs in the first of their three Twenty20 (T20) warm-up encounters on Thursday.

King, who is leading the team for the first time on his home soil, gave the decent size crowd much to cheer about with a well-played 79 off 45 balls, which assisted the Caribbean side to 175-8 from their allotment, before Matthew Forde (3-27), Gudakesh Motie (3-25) and Obed McCoy (2-15), restricted South Africa to 147 in 19.5 overs.

Despite the absence of the main scoreboard –which has been out for almost four years now –as well as an underprepared tabled press area, King and company ensured that the first international game at the venue since 2022, was a successful one.

The 29-year-old, who is deputizing for compatriot Rovman Powell, attributed his Player-of-the-Match knock, which included six fours and six maximums, to the familiar conditions.

“Obviously it is leading up to the World Cup so we want to be playing good cricket and we got the win today, so we are happy with that and I think we played well all around,” King said in a post-game interview.

“I had the advantage of knowing the conditions well and I know that it is easiest to bat when it’s the new ball so I had to try and get a good start and I executed well. At the mid-way point I think we had 200-220 in mind as we had wickets in hand but it is a difficult wicket to bat on when the ball gets older, but we still managed to get a competitive total on this wicket,” he added.

After being asked to take first strike, King started positively, but lost opening partner Johnson Charles (one) in the fourth over with the score at 36.

However, he found another useful ally in Kyle Mayers, and the added a further 79 runs for the second wicket, with King, the aggressor raising his 10th international half-century off 27 balls in the sixth over when he drove a length delivery from Lungi Ngidi to the midwicket boundary.

The skipper continued to take the South African bowlers to task, before he eventually went, reaching for one of Andile Phehlukwayo that came off the toe of the bat and was caught by his opposite number Rassie van der Dussen.

Still, at 115-2 after 11 overs, West Indies remained on course for a massive total, but then came the familiar collapse as they lost three wickets in quick succession. Mayers was first to go for a 25-ball 34, including three sixes and a solitary four, with Andre Fletcher (one) and Fabian Allen (one) following.

In fact, apart from vice-captain Roston Chase, who made a measured unbeaten 32 off 30 balls, which had two fours and a six, none of the batsmen got into double figures.

Phehlukwayo (3-28) and Ottneil Baartman (3-26) did the damage for South Africa.

In reply, South Africa started with Quinton De Cock driving Matthew Forde’s first ball, a full length delivery, straight down the ground. However, the 22-year-old Barbadian responded immediately as he served up another full length delivery, just around off stump, which forced de Kock into another drive, but the left-hander got a slight edge and Andre Fletcher made no mistakes behind the stumps.

Debutant Ryan Rickelton (six) also had a brief stay in the middle, and from there, the visitors laboured, despite Reeza Hendricks making his 15th T20 international half-century. Hendricks, who was ninth man out with just two balls left of the innings, made a career-best 87 off 51 balls with six sixes and six fours.

Captain Rassie van der Dussen (17) and Matthew Breetzke (19) were the only other South African batsmen to reach double figures.

The second and third games of the series are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, at the same venue, ahead of the much-anticipated June-1-29 T20 World Cup hosted in the Caribbean and United States.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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  • Pooran just shy of century as Windies light up record books in dominant win over Afghanistan Pooran just shy of century as Windies light up record books in dominant win over Afghanistan

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