South Africa won the opening game of the inaugural game of the Twenty20 World Championship despite a brilliant smashing ton from Chris Gayle. The Proteas were helped by three dropped catches and sloppy wide deliveries that eased them through in their chase of 206. An unbroken third wicket partnership between Gibbs and Kemp ensured that Chris Gayle ended up on the losing side. The only consolation for Gayle was in getting the Man of the Match award.
At the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, Graeme Smith won the toss and decided to watch what kind of a total will be put up by the opposition. West Indies went out with Gayle and Devon Smith giving them a fine start which exploded once the former freed his arms. Windies off to a flier from Gayle while Devon Smith was content in giving him the strike and the two went onto register the highest opening partnership in this version of the game putting on 145 in 13.3 overs. Devon Smith made 35 from 34 in that. Windies were on path of hitting in excess of 230 but lost their way thanks to good bowling from Johannes van der wath (4-0-33-2) and Morne Morkel (4-0-30-1). Chris Gayle’s innings came to an end in the 17th but not before doing plenty of damage with his 117 from 57 with 7 fours and 10 sixes. It was the first ever century registered in this form of the game and the 10 sixes scored is the new record for most sixes by a batsman in an innings. Windies were restricted to 205 for 6 towards the end.
Daren Powell began the proceedings with the ball during the second innings with his first ball rapping up Graeme Smith painfully on the knuckles. Lot of time was spent with the South African skipper taking his time in getting some treatment from the physio instead of retiring hurt. Although he looked in pain, Smith continued his innings to build up a base for SA along with Herschelle Gibbs. After striking 4 fours and a six, Graeme Smith was dismissed in the 6th over with SA at 54 for 1. South Africa then lost AB de Villiers to a miscued hit off the red hot Fidel Edwards in the 9th over with the score moving at 88 for 2 in 8.1. Gibbs was keeping his side in the hunt by regularly finding the boundaries. However, Gibbs was riding his luck after being dropped on 20 by Bravo at sweeper covers and then on 43 by Chanderpaul at deep mid wicket.
Fidel Edwards was the only bowler who looked good to contain the South Africans. But he was taken off the attack to keep his two overs for the death. The other bowlers just disappointed by slipping in plenty of wides down the legside to make it tough for Denesh Ramdin behind the stumps. Gibbs and Kemp took advantage of every length delivery which were coupled with some incredible timing and improvisation that got the target down quickly. The partnership made sure that Windies had no chance to come back in the game. Kemp as well had a slice of luck when he was dropped by Samuels at long on when he was on 15. It was no looking back once Kemp freed his broad shoulders and South Africa coasted to victory in the 18th over with 14 balls to spare. Gibbs was unbeaten on 90 from 55 with 14 fours and two sixes and Kemp got 46 from 22 with 5 fours and 2 sixes. The problem for SA is that Graeme Smith’s injury looks serious and Gibbs had to bat with a runner during his innings which might be because of a hamstring niggle.