Lacklustre Windies made to toil
22 Apr 2005
By: Neil Pickup
One sensed that, last evening, "BC Lara, bowled Nel, 176" had a game-changing feeling to it. Having near-single-handedly extricated his side from peril after three early wickets fell, at 286 for 5 all seemed rosy before Lara chopped on, and Dwayne Bravo followed the following over to bring the South Africans firmly back into the Bridgetown box seats.
The seats were not to be relinquished and furthermore, come the close of the second day's play, they had been freshly upholstered. Not only that, but the West Indians had been reduced to making do with cheap plastic furniture with dodgy legs, bought en masse from the nearest wholesaler at a knockdown price.
The first nineteen deliveries of the second morning's play at the Kensington Oval proved sufficient to apply the last rites to the hosts' fragile tail. Monde Zondeki, taking 4 for 50 despite going wicketless in Trinidad, disposed of both Daren Powell and Fidel Edwards - undone by away-movement and bounce respectively - before holding on to Courtney Browne as he perished, hooking Andre Nel to deep square leg. The last five West Indian wickets had fallen for just ten runs.
The brief exhibition of tail-end capitulation over, South Africa provided an altogether more watertight cricketing display of batsmanship to further enhance their series position and further solidify the foundations of a series victory. Both opening batsmen, Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers, made centuries in a 191-run opening stand in which errors, lapses and half-chances were few and far between.
Fidel Edwards' first-ball yorker that speared through Smith's defences and past his off stump was as close as the Barbadian came on his return to the Test arena after an eight-month injury layoff and whilst a one-handed Dwayne Bravo effort in the gully briefly disturbed the Protean progress, it took Chris Gayle to finally break the opening alliance. Smith was the first - and only - tourist to fall as he scooped the off-spinner to Wavell Hinds at short cover, perhaps impeded by the hamstring niggle that forced him to call for a runner.
Meanwhile, de Villiers continued serenely onwards, more restrained than he has often been in his short Test career to date, and crucially remained unbeaten come stumps on 122*, his second Test century and highest score. The recalled Boeta Dippenaar was alongside him at stumps, nearly a full three figures shy of his team-mate, but in an equally firm position to build a third-day lead before transferring all the pressure back onto their hosts, who must avoid defeat in this Test if they are to take anything from the series.
West Indies 296
Brian Lara 176, Shivnarine Chanderpaul 53
Monde Zondeki 4-50, Andre Nel 4-56
South Africa 253-1
AB de Villiers 122*, Graeme Smith 104
Chris Gayle 1-41