Resurgent Gayle smashes SA

Chris Gayle found form at the right time for the West Indies, as he smashed his seventh Test match hundred – a score of 184 not out. The left-handed opener frustrated the South African attack alongside fellow centurion Ramnaresh Sarwan (103 not out), as the West Indies met stumps at 299/1.

In the role of a boundary specialist throughout most of the innings, Gayle scored 122 of his 184 runs in boundaries and sixes. Gayle struck 26 balls to the fence and hit 3 over it, as he blasted the South African bowling on his way to his hundred, then settled into a more patient role.

At the other end, Sarwan was the perfect foil, consistently rotating the strike and dispatching the loose deliveries on his way to an 8th Test hundred. He was dropped at square leg by Dippenaar, attempting a pull shot, but played a largely impressive innings otherwise, showing good restraint and control.

Graeme Smith went late for a chance off Gayle before he had reached his hundred, and ended up missing the opportunity and conceding a boundary. It was the only clear cut chance given by the opener during the day, though both he and Sarwan edged the ball through vacant areas of the slip cordon on more than one occasion.

The partnership of 285 between the two batsmen came after early crisis saw a first-ball dismissal of Wavell Hinds, caught and bowled by Ntini for a duck. Then with the team at 14/1, Gayle acted to hit his way back into form and did it in tremendous fashion. He took to the returning Shaun Pollock initially, then went even further against Monde Zondeki.

The young pace bowler had his first 3 overs concede 33 runs, with ceaseless attack from Gayle. It was just 34 balls into his innings when Gayle reached his 50, and he later reached his hundred off 96 balls.

Comparatively creeping along, Sarwan got to his hundred late in the day, flicking part-timer AB de Villiers for a single to reach the milestone. He faced 221 balls and struck 10 fours and 2 sixes in the effort. The two sixes were lovely lofted strokes off consecutive Graeme Smith deliveries.

The day began with South Africa at the crease, and the overnight batsmen added 37 runs to their massive partnership. Eventually Powell broke through with the dismissal of Kallis for 147, ending a stand of 267 for the 5th wicket. Ashwell Prince moved to 131, then he too was dismissed, Bravo the bowler on the occasion.

Mark Boucher (11 not out) and Shaun Pollock (13 not out) pushed the score along, and the tourists declared at an imposing 588/6. Daren Powell (2/137) was the most successful West Indian bowler and the only one to take more than single wicket.

Playing first toward a follow on target of 389, the epic second wicket partnership between Gayle and Sarwan took stance as that of record proportions. As it stands it is the largest partnership for the second wicket at the ground and for the West Indies against South Africa.

None of the seven South African bowlers looked significantly penetrative, though the effort was purposeful throughout. The match has to this point seen 6 hundreds scored and just 7 wickets taken.

For Gayle, his hundred was the significant 50th at the Antigua Recreation Ground, ironically in his 50th career Test. The innings came on the back of just 12 runs in Gayle’s previous 4 innings of the series. Sarwan’s ton took on personal significance too, as his second of the series.

The West Indies will resume on day four still trailing by 289 runs and needing 90 runs to make South Africa bat again.

Score Summary:

South Africa 1st innings 588/6 dec. (163 overs)
JH Kallis 147, AG Prince 131, GC Smith 126, AB de Villiers 114
DB Powell 1/137

West Indies 1st innings 299/1 (80 overs)
CH Gayle 184 not out, RR Sarwan 103 not out
M Ntini 1/57

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