South Africa clinch series decider as West Indies fall short

By Sports Desk July 03, 2021

Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram paved the way for South Africa to claim their first Twenty20 series win since March 2019 as they held off West Indies to secure a 25-run victory.

Having decided to bat first in Grenada, Temba Bavuma's side went on to seal a decisive triumph to round off a 3-2 series success.

De Kock's 60 and Markram's 70 set the tone as the tourists reached 168-4 from 20 overs.

It proved the difference, with Evin Lewis' 52 not enough to inspire the Windies, who also lost the Test series against the Proteas 2-0.

South Africa could hardly have got off to a poorer start, however, with captain Bavuma dismissed on the third delivery of the day.

Yet thanks to the efforts of De Kock – who struck his third straight half-century – and Markram, the Proteas were on 128 by the time they next lost a wicket.

After helping to muster the highest partnership of the series for either side, De Kock picked out Andre Russell off Fidel Edwards' bowling, before Markram, who has now scored 50 or more in four of his last nine T20s, succumbed two overs later.

David Miller added 18 off 16 deliveries to ensure South Africa finished with a flourish.

Lewis went on the attack to get Windies off to a strong start, but by the time he was caught by Markram, the hosts were 75-3, having lost Lendl Simmons and Chris Gayle.

Shimron Hetmyer's 33 included two sixes, but the loss of Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell in swift succession ultimately left the Windies with too much to do, with Nicholas Pooran's dismissal the final blow to their hopes.

DE KOCK LEADS THE WAY

Though Markram was awarded with player of the match, De Kock has enjoyed a brilliant series.

His innings also included four boundaries along with a pair of sixes, while De Kock's total of 225 runs are also the most by a batter in a bilateral series. 

Lungi Ngidi (3-32), was the pick of the bunch from South Africa's bowling attack.

BOUCHER GETS A MONKEY OFF HIS BACK

This was also a huge win for South Africa coach Mark Boucher. The Proteas have hardly had much in the way of consistent success under his coaching unit, albeit the coronavirus pandemic has certainly played a part in that.

Indeed, South Africa were on a five-series losing streak in T20s, but they may just have started to turn things around.

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    Meanwhile, Marcus Stoinis is expected to return for Sunday's opening T20I against England, having joined Marsh in missing the recent tour of India.

    Marsh has not featured since an ODI outing against Zimbabwe in August after sustaining an ankle injury, leaving Cameron Green to deputise throughout last month's 2-1 series defeat in India.

    While Marsh will not bowl against the Windies, Finch believes a place at number three is his to lose, saying: "One-hundred per cent, he's made that spot his own in T20 cricket. 

    "I think the way that he played in the lead-up and then through the World Cup [last year] is so important for the way that we want to play and gives us a lot of flexibility through that middle order.

    "I think he had his second bowl yesterday and he felt really good. He pulled up well from it. So that's a really positive sign.

    "I think for the balance of the side, it's better when they [Marsh and Stoinis] are both bowling because you can get caught a little bit short if you go in with five bowlers. But we'll work that out."

    Having suffered a side strain in early September, Stoinis has not travelled to the Gold Coast for Australia's meetings with the Windies, but will join the squad in Perth for the first of three matches against England.

    Finch is hopeful over Stoinis' fitness, highlighting the role of logistics in that decision as he added: "He's at a level where we think that he'll be fully fit for that first game against England.

    "We were just conscious of the travel with a quick turnaround. It can be quite a high-risk game for some guys with some soft tissue injuries so he's just still planning and preparing there. 

    "He's such an important part of our side and the make-up of it, especially with his bowling."

    While Green performed well in India, recording scores of 62 and 52, Finch doubts whether he can force his way into Australia's 15 for the World Cup if Marsh and Stoinis stay fit.

    "I don't think so," Finch added. "It's just one of those things. He had a really good tour of India. It was good for him to get an opportunity to open the batting.

    "I think he'll get an opportunity at some point in this series. Obviously his batting is exceptional and he shows a lot with the ball. 

    "He keeps improving every time he gets an opportunity but over the next few weeks, he'll get a run, no doubt."

    Australia begin their World Cup defence against neighbours New Zealand on October 22

  • Liverpool and Rangers set for historic battle of Britain, Barca face Inter – Champions League in Opta numbers Liverpool and Rangers set for historic battle of Britain, Barca face Inter – Champions League in Opta numbers

    Liverpool face Rangers in a battle of Britain and Barcelona will attempt to apply more pressure on Inter boss Simone Inzaghi with a Champions League victory on Tuesday.

    An army of Gers fans will travel south of the border to descend on Merseyside for a Group A clash that will give them another opportunity to secure a first point, with the Reds in second spot behind Napoli.

    Barca moved top of La Liga last weekend and Xavi's side will start their third Group C game level on points with out-of-sorts Inter after losing 2-0 to leaders Bayern Munich last month.

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    Ahead of another mouthwatering set of matches, Stats Perform trawls through the Opta data to highlight the most noteworthy facts for each contest.

    Liverpool v Rangers

    This will be the first European meeting between Liverpool and the Glasgow giants in a European competition.

    The Gers have only won one of their seven away games in England, that being a 2-1 Champions League victory at Leeds United in November 1992 courtesy of goals from Mark Hateley and Ally McCoist. They have suffered six defeats and drawn twice.

    Liverpool's last meeting with Scottish opponents in the European Cup was back in the 1980-81 campaign, winning 5-0 on aggregate against Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen (1-0 away, 4-0 home). The Reds went on to win the competition that year.

    Jurgen Klopp's side have won 13 of their past 15 home Champions League group stage matches (D1 L1), scoring 36 goals in process. Their solitary defeat was against Atalanta in November 2020

    Rangers have failed to score in their two group games so far. Indeed, only Plzen (2) and Sevilla (3) have had fewer shots on target than the Scottish club (4) in this season's first two matchdays.

    Inter v Barcelona

    Inter have won just two of their 14 European matches against Barcelona (D4 L8), a 2-1 victory in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in January 1970 and 3-1 Champions League triumph in April 2010.

    Barca's two away wins against the Nerazzurri came 60 years apart, winning 4-2 in the Fairs Cup in September 1959 and 2-1 in the Champions League in December 2019.

    Inter have lost six UEFA Champions League matches against the Catalan giants, their most against a single opponent. Barca have only beaten Celtic (8) more times in the competition.

    Barca have lost three of their past four away Champions League group stage matches (W1), as many as in their previous 25 matches on their travels in the competition (W15 D7). Xavi is only the second manager to lose his first two away Champions League matches in charge of Barcelona, along with Louis van Gaal in 1997.

    Inter have lost their past two Champions League games at San Siro (0-2 v Liverpool and Bayern). Only once previously have they suffered three consecutive home defeats in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League (a run of three between February-September 2011).

    Bayern Munich v Viktoria Plzen

    Bayern have won all four of their European matches against Plzen, beating them twice in the 1971-72 Cup Winners' Cup and the Champions League in 2013-14.

    Plzen's two away European matches against Bayern have seen them concede at least five goals on each occasion, losing 6-1 in September 1971 in the Cup Winners' Cup and 5-0 in the Champions League nine years ago.

    Bayern are out to record three wins at the start of a Champions League campaign for a fourth consecutive season. In their opening three games in the previous three seasons and their two games this year, they have won all 11 matches by an aggregate score of 41-7.

    Plzen have conceded seven goals in their two Champions League games this season and only kept one clean sheet in their 20 matches in the competition.

    Leroy Sane has been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 11 Champions League starts for Bayern (8 goals, 6 assists). The winger could become only the second player to score in Bayern's first three Champions League games in a season, with Robert Lewandowski (in 2019-20 and 2021-22) being the other.

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    Napoli have never won away from home in the Netherlands (D2 L3) in any European competition.

    Ajax have failed to win any of their past 11 home European matches against Italian opposition (D6 L5) since winning 2-1 against Roma in this competition in December 2002.

    Napoli will be looking to win their first three Champions League group stage games for the first time. They are unbeaten in eight matches in the group stage of the competition (W5 D3).

    Ajax have won their past four home games in the group stage of the Champions League, scoring four goals in each of the previous three (4-0 v Borussia Dortmund, 4-2 v Sporting CP and 4-0 v Rangers).

    Napoli are the top scoring side in the Champions League this season with seven goals. Luciano Spalletti's side have had more shots (43) and shots on target (19) than any other team.

    Other fixtures:

    Marseille v Sporting CP

    6 - Marseille have lost six of their eight European Cup/Champions League matches against Portuguese opponents (W1 D1).

    16 - Marseille have lost 16 of their past 17 Champions League matches (W1), failing to score in 11 matches in this run, including both games this season.

    Porto v Bayer Leverkusen

    7 - Porto have won seven of their eight home Champions League games against German opposition (D1), winning five in a row.

    2 - Leverkusen have only won two of their past 13 away matches in the Champions League (D5 L6), with three of the previous four ending in defeats without scoring.

    Club Brugge v Atletico Madrid

    3 - Brugge are unbeaten in all three home meetings with Atleti in European competition (W2 D1).

    7 - Atleti have never won a European match against a Belgium club in seven attempts (five away, two neutral). They have played more major European games on Belgian soil without winning than in any other country.

    Eintracht Frankfurt v Tottenham

    4 - Tottenham have lost their past four Champions League matches against German opposition by an aggregate score of 14-3, losing twice to Bayern Munich (2-7 and 1-3) and twice to RB Leipzig (0-1 and 0-3).

    3 - Eintracht have won three consecutive European games against English teams (one versus Arsenal, two v West Ham), as many as in their first 14.

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    James Maddison not going to the World Cup with England would be "a shame for the country", said Brendan Rodgers after the Leicester City midfielder scored another two goals on Monday.

    Maddison's continued absence from Gareth Southgate's Three Lions squad has been the source of some contention.

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    Yet Maddison has started the Premier League season in outstanding form. After scoring two and assisting another in Leicester's 4-0 win over fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest, he has seven goal involvements in seven appearances.

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    "I love Phil Foden, Mason Mount, those boys who play there – Jack Grealish is different, Jack plays from the side – but Madders can play in a number of positions to a high level, and he showed that tonight."

    Maddison, who said suggestions he would not be a good character within the group if not starting were "insulting", added: "It's been a weird position for me.

    "We [Leicester] have been bottom of the league, and results have not been going our way, but I've almost been as confident as I've ever been in my career.

    "I don't remember over the last 12 months playing better than I have and feeling as well as I have.

    "It's obviously hard to answer this question [on his England hopes], because you want to say the right thing, you don't want to say the wrong thing, but that's an ambition of mine, a goal of mine.

    "I'm a football man, I watch all the games, I watch international football, and an opportunity at that level would be something I desire. I almost know I'd have an impact.

    "It's one I hope will come my way at some point."

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