GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – Off-spinner Sunil Narine celebrated his return to international colours with a career-best six-wicket haul while Kieron Pollard smashed a bold half-century to mark his first One-Day International in nearly two years, as West Indies eased to a four-wicket victory over South Africa in the opening game of the Tri-Nations Series here Friday.
In a low-scoring day/night affair at the Guyana National Stadium, Narine snared six for 27 to rout the Proteas for 188 off 46.5 overs and Pollard followed up that effort with a run-a-ball unbeaten 67, which carried the hosts to victory with 11 deliveries remaining.
Opener Johnson Charles supported with 31 while left-hander Darren Bravo chipped in with 30.
West Indies were in a spot of bother at 76 for four in the 26th over when Pollard arrived, and he quickly quelled the nerves with his eighth ODI half-century which included six sixes and two fours.
Significantly, the right-hander put on a crucial 74 for the fifth wicket with Bravo which resuscitated the run chase and turned the tide back towards West Indies.
Earlier, Narine claimed the best one-day figures by a West Indies spinner and the fifth best figures overall as South Africa were bundled out cheaply after opting to bat first.
Banned by the International Cricket Council last November because of an illegal action but cleared to resume bowling in April after rehabilitation on his action, the Trinidadian befuddled the South African lineup with a fine display of off-spin.
Rilee Rossouw top-scored with 61, captain AB de Villiers struck 31 and Quinton de Kock made 30, but South Africa struggled to score on a low surface, especially against Narine and left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn.
Nevertheless, they were 160 for three in the 36th over before Narine triggered a middle and lower order collapse which saw the last seven wickets tumble for 28 runs.
De Kock and Hashim Amla (20) gave South Africa a handy start when they posted 52 off 59 balls for the first wicket, before both perished in successive overs with no addition to the score to bring West Indies back into the game.
Left-hander de Kock dragged one from seamer Carlos Brathwaite (2-35) back onto his stumps in the 10th over while Amla, a right-hander, was palpably lbw to the first ball of the next over from Narine.
Rossouw and de Villers consolidated in a 78-run, third wicket stand but they found runs difficult to come by and there was little acceleration during the partnership.
In fact, Rossouw struck just two fours in his 83-ball innings while de Villiers, known for his superb striking of the ball, never found the boundary once in his 49-ball knock.
They fell 30 runs apart with de Villiers first to go, driving a firm return catch to pacer Jerome Taylor while Rossouw taken at slip by Brathwaite, edging one that spun across him.
Narine then scythed through the innings with the brutality of old, claiming four of the last six wickets. He pinned Farhaan Behardien in front without scoring to the second ball the batsman faced and then watched as JP Duminy dragged on to captain and seamer Jason Holder for 23 in the 41st over.
Narine sent back Chris Morris for nine to another LBW decision in the 45th over before Brathwaite picked up his second wicket when he breached Kyle Abbott’s defence for five, at 181 for eight in the 46th over.
The 28-year-old Narine had Aaron Phangiso caught at cover for three to register only his second five-wicket haul in ODIs before polishing off the innings by accounting for Kagiso Rabada with his fourth LBW decision.
In reply, West Indies got a listless start from the opening pair of Charles and Andre Fletcher (11) who put on a streaky 37 from 70 deliveries.
It meant the innings was wandering and when Imran Tahir bowled both with googlies, 35 balls apart, the Windies were in a muddle at 52 for two in the 18th over.
Marlon Samuels missed one from Phangiso and was lbw for two in the following over with one run added and JP Duminy ended a promising 23-run stand between Bravo and Ramdin when he had the latter caught at extra cover for 10 at 76 for four.
Pollard, controversially omitted from the ODI squad every since the controversial abandoned tour of India in 2014, immediately announced his intentions. He cleared the ropes at long on with Duminy off the second ball he had faced to register the first six of the game, and followed up with two successive sixes off Phangiso in the following over.
He dominated the stand with Bravo who faced 69 balls and counted two fours before prodding at one from Phangiso and falling lbw in the 39th over at 150, with 39 still required for the win.
Brathwaite holed out in the deep for eight in the 43rd over but Pollard and Holder, on 10 not out, saw the Windies home.
SOUTH AFRICA 188 off 46.5 overs (Rilee Rossouw 61, AB de Villiers 31, Quinton de Kock 30, JP Duminy 23; Sunil Narine 6-27, Carlos Brathwaite 2-35)
WEST INDIES 191 for six off 48.1 overs (Kieron Pollard 67 not out, Johnson Charles 31, Darren Bravo 30; Aaron Phangiso 3-40, Imran Tahir 2-41)