Listless Windies cede initiative

A ninth Test century from Graeme Smith shifted the balance of play in the Second Test between South Africa and the West Indies at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, firmly in the tourists’ favour following an attritional day’s play.

The South Africans scored at barely more than two runs per over throughout the course of proceedings, but crucially were to lose just three wickets as they eked out a first innings lead against a West Indian side that often seemed bereft of ideas and even leadership, new captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul providing precious little impetus to proceedings.

Even night-watchman Monde Zondeki saw through almost eighteen overs alongside his captain, relatively untroubled, before Pedro Collins broke through the fast bowler’s defenses with a well-directed inswinging yorker, but not before forty more had been added to the overnight tally, and his captain had reached three figures.

Where Zondeki left off, Herschelle Gibbs continued in an identically torpid vein. As the pitch continued to show signs of uneven bounce, South Africa’s accumulation exercise continued as they strove to minimise their fourth-innings target. It took a rare Chanderpaul gamble to eventually remove Smith, when following the afternoon drinks break, Wavell Hinds’ innocuous first delivery of the match thudded straight into the left-hander’s pads, leaving Smith to chastise himself at throwing his graft away in such a manner.

Even with the loss of their skipper, South Africa remained a contrast to the West Indians – purposeful, determined and focused – as the sessions wore onwards. Ashwell Prince joined Gibbs, who briefly lifted the tempo with one straight six off Chris Gayle, who sent down 33 overs, over half maidens, for only 41 runs – but crucially without breakthrough.

The third and final wicket of the day’s play fell again to Collins, strangling Gibbs, the pitch exorcising its first demons of the day as the left-armer’s delivery shot along the ground and into off-stump. The hosts could have had a fourth, but Donovan Pagon’s miserable Test continued as he spilled a regulation catch at midwicket as Prince mishooked Reon King before South Africa, with Prince and Mark Boucher at the helm, crawled towards a first-innings superiority that may well prove the difference as the wicket deteriorates further over the final two days.

West Indies 347
Brian Lara 196, Shivnarine Chanderpaul 35
Makhaya Ntini 6-95, Andre Nel 3-71

South Africa 370-6
Graeme Smith 148, Ashwell Prince 41*
Pedro Collins 2-78, Dwayne Bravo 2-79

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