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SA clinch a thriller

Colombo: South Africa snatched a dramatic last-ball victory against West Indies in a thrilling Group C league match in the ICC Champions Trophy on Friday to virtually assure themselves of a semi-final berth.

The victory was made possible by a wide ball from Mervyn Dillon when South Africa needed three runs from the last ball of the match. After scampering for a bye off the wide ball, Alan Dawson hit a boundary off the next to take South Africa’s score to 242 for eight in response to West Indies’ 238 for eight.

The Caribbeans were coasting to assured victory with the South Africans needing 13 off the last over. But their captain Shaun Pollock hit a six off the very first ball and brought his side back in the reckoning. Pollock was dismissed next ball and Lance Klusener the one after, but West Indies couldn’t hold their nerves and let South Africa reach the target.

With Kenya the third team in the group, West Indies’ campaign is all but over. In a see-saw game, the Proteas, after being docked an over for slow bowling, slumped to 61 for three before recovering through a record 117-run fourth wicket stand between Boeta Dippenaar (53) and Jonty Rhodes (61). They bettered the 112-run stand between Gary Kirsten and Hansie Cronje at Lahore in 1997, the previous best for a South African fourth wicket pair against the West Indies.

Dippenaar and Rhodes were cruising along nicely at 178 for three when West Indies captain Carl Hooper dealt South Africa a double blow in the 40th over.

Dippenaar was caught by Mahendra Nagamootoo soon after reaching his half century with four fours and Rhodes played on to his stumps two balls later to leave his team 179 for five. Mark Boucher and Lance Klusener strung a useful 41 run partnership for the sixth wicket before Dillon sent both back.

Earlier, the West Indies were restricted to 238 in their allotted 50 overs with openers Chris Gayle and Chanderpaul being the highest contributors, scoring 49 and 45 respectively.

After a slow start, the Caribbeans were helped by attacking batting from Gayle who shared a 63-run opening stand with Chanderpaul.

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