SA edge initiative
03 Jan 2008
By: Paul Wood
South Africa will consider themselves to just about have their noses in front at the end of day two in this vital second Test at Cape Town thanks to the battling qualities and rearguard action of Ashwell Prince and Mark Boucher.
The home side were once against in trouble against this West Indian attack at 131-5, until Prince (55*) and Boucher (35*) combined for an unbroken stand of 87 when play drew to a close.
Andre Nel made short work of the remaining resistance in the West Indies line up, resuming on 240-8, they lasted only 18 balls with Nel removing both Daren Powell and Fidel Edwards with edges into the slip cordon. It meant that Shivanrine Chanderpaul was left high and dry and lacking any credible lower order support. The importance of his typically well structured innings will only be revealed when the final ball of the Test is bowled, yet on this track you get the feeling it may have been worth close to double the amount.
South Africa lined up with their new opening partnership, Neil McKenzie being rewarded for his fine domestic this season, although it must be said it was in the middle order where he has found his runs flowing freely.
The ball jagged around early, as indeed it did for a large portion of the day, and Smith and McKenzie needed excellent judgement to elect which deliveries to offer a stroke to.
McKenzie appeared to be looking at relative ease, timing one pull off Fidel Edwards to perfection giving the fielder no chance despite the limited number of yards he was from the ball. But on 23 he was lured into a prod outside his off stump from Jerome Taylor and Chris Gayle made no mistake in first slip.
A frustration for the South African skipper Smith, will have been the inability of the top four to go on and make an innings that will largely effect the result of the game, but then again it does seem a wicket that you are never entirely comfortable with. Smith himself fell when it appeared he was going to force his way through his recent rough trot, a lack of footwork proving his undoing as he edged a ball directed across him from Taylor again.
Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis were building a handy partnership of 59 when Dwayne Bravo, who has stamina in abundance, gave keeper Denesh Ramdin another victim with a beauty of a delivery that seamed away and took the edge of Kallis's bat.
How many times once a partnership has been broken does the other player follow suit and return to the pavilion. It happened again, in Bravo's next over he swung one back into Amla who was attempting to work a ball through the on side that should simply have been played straight and the ball thudded into his front pad, umpire Simon Taufel with no alternative but to send Amla on his way.
It really was a superb effort from Bravo who bowled unchanged for a remarkable 24 overs, the break for lunch and tea at least offering him some respite. His figures after that marathon spell were 24-8-46-3, an incredible display.
West Indies were hampered by an injury to pace bowler Fidel Edwards who looked to have strained his left hamstring in his fifth over.
Prince and Boucher now needed to display the fighting qualities that are so well associated with the pair, and display it they did. None more so than in a particularly hostile Taylor over while Boucher was on nought. The first delivery wrapped him on the gloves, the second thundered into his chest and a couple of searing bouncers ensured Boucher was alive to the situation very early in his innings.
Yet battle they did. They finally reaped the rewards as Daren Powell in particular became a little carried away with the short ball that in truth lost a large amount of pace on this track when banged in halfway down. Prince pulled and hooked with authority, while Boucher remained watchful, intent on cashing in where his top four failed to fully do so.
The new ball was taken just before the close and will remain a potent weapon for West Indies in the morning, it will have to be used well to make sure South Africa do not gain an intimidating lead. However, with Edwards injured and Taylor carrying a niggle it may well be down to Bravo to put in another immense effort.
West Indies 243 all out
Shiv Chanderpaul 65*, Marlon Samuels 51
Dale Steyn 4-60, Andre Nel 3-61
South Africa 218-5
Ashwell Prince 55*, Mark Boucher 35*
Dwayne Bravo 3-46, Jerome Taylor 2-45
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