Unbelievable! Proteas shatter record for highest chase in T20I history on famous day for SA cricket

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Quinton de Kock. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
Quinton de Kock. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
At SuperSport Park
  • The Proteas have made history by chasing down the highest score in the history of T20I cricket to beat the West Indies.
  • Quinton de Kock and Reeza Hendricks were superb at the top of the order. 
  • Few would have believed that South Africa could pull off the win after the conceded 258 with the ball. 

Strictly speaking, the occasion didn't warrant it - they do have bigger fish to fry against Netherlands next week - but an electric SuperSport Park on Sunday relived a '438' moment of sorts in the Proteas' second T20 against the West Indies.

Aiden Markram and his troops needed to overhaul 258/5 - the tallest chase in the history of T20 internationals - and duly did so, 17 years after Graeme Smith's vintage famously surprised the Australians in a world record 50-over chase of 435 at the Wanderers.

SCORECARD | Proteas v West Indies - 2nd T20

On that day, not many cricket fans and observers around the world believed a required rate of 8.68 could be sustained, and while the wild evolution of the 20-over format has illustrated to us that a chase of 244 - like Australia managed against New Zealand in 2018 - is possible, 13 an over still would've seen a fair share of Doubting Thomases emerge.

Whether it was just the cheery optimism of starting a new white-ball era under Rob Walter or a Jacques Kallis walking into a muted dressing room quipping, 'The bowlers have done their job boys – I reckon they're 10 or 15 short', the South African batting order weren't going to stick to a script asking them to surrender meekly.

Instead, Quinton de Kock and Reeza Hendricks crafted one of the most astonishing and memorable opening partnerships in the history of the format to orchestrate this absurdly thrilling, series-levelling victory.

By the time the powerplay was done, the Proteas had reached 102 without loss, incidentally eclipsing the world record of 98 their selfsame opponents set against Sri Lanka in 2021.

The 150 was reached in 10.2 overs, three balls before De Kock would be dismissed after skying a pull to Nicholas Pooran behind the stumps.

The damage, however, was done.

The pair could bask in work that was near-perfection.

Seldom have two batters complemented each other so well.

De Kock felt like the aggressor and he generally was, unleashing his trademark brand of hits all around the wicket, but reserving his best for square of the wicket.

He broke his own South African record for the fastest fifty in the format by reaching the landmark in 15 deliveries.

His maiden T20I hundred came at a more "sedate" 43 balls yet still represents the third quickest by a Protea.

De Kock, who would end up hitting nine fours and eight sixes, might've been the dominant partner in terms of runs but, in a testament to the newfound class of Reeza Hendricks, who's rapidly becoming South Africa's most valuable and consistent batter in the format, he was outscored in terms of tempo.

The silky right-hander was mesmerising to watch, striking 11 fours and two sixes with the minimum of fuss and fireworks in a 28-ball 68 that, in a parallel universe, might've been more important than De Kock's innings.

When he was undone by a Raymon Reifer slower bouncer, the Proteas had whittled down the required rate to a more than manageable 9 and all it required was the finishing touch of Markram's muscular, unbeaten 38 off 21.

Depressingly for the chastened Windies, it overshadowed all the noble deeds they had done with the bat.

Johnson Charles, unexpectedly but not entirely unwelcomingly for an appreciative crowd, channeled his inner Chris Gayle as he galloped to a sensational first ton himself.

It was a brilliant performance from the right-hander, who struck 11 maximums and 10 fours in a 46-ball 118 that broke the record for the islanders' quickest ton in the format (39 deliveries).

Charles, a veteran who was part of the Windies' 2012 and 2016 T20 World Cup-winning campaigns, has been a journeyman in the format as his consistency has continually been cited as a blot on his copybook.

However, all of those criticisms - like that of the Proteas' patently insipid bowling effort - were forgotten as he conjured up what will probably be a once-in-a-career knock, a stay at the crease where he simply could do no wrong.

Typically muscular square of the wicket on both sides, Charles also showed off some brilliant striking straighter. It was a chanceless effort, only ended when a Marco Jansen yorker on leg squeezed past his defence.

In fact, had the lanky quick not shown a penchant for taking wickets amidst all the runs he conceded - he ended with 3/52 - South Africa's task might've been more nail-biting.

He was matched almost blow-for-blow by Kyle Mayers, whose 24-ball 50 (Charles' milestone came off 23) was equally eye-catching after he'd actually played out Aiden Markram's first five deliveries for no run in the second over.

Their second-wicket partnership of 135 off just 58 deliveries, predictably, put the Windies in a prime position for their record-breaking exploits, especially after Romario Shepherd's 18-ball 41 applied the finishing touches.   

Unfortunately, the Proteas applied that template even better.

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