South Africa carve massive lead

Three massive partnerships put South Africa in a position from which they are almost certain to win the Third Test against West Indies and take the series 2-1. Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla had compiled most of their eventual partnership yesterday, and Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince and AB de Villiers ensured the good work was not wasted. The home side eventually piled-on 556 for 4, from just 120 overs, giving them a massive first-innings lead of 417. Only the possibility of inclement weather later in the match appears to pose any danger to their triumph.

Smith and Amla, 122 and 55 overnight respectively, carried-on more or less where they had left off the previous day, adding 39 to their partnership of 160. Jerome Taylor continued to test the batsmen far more than anyone else, and it was something of a surprise when Amla got a leading-edge to Darren Sammy, being caught well by Dwayne Bravo at a very short mid-off. Smith will have been hugely disappointed to be dismissed for 147 the following over, as he has still not added to his tally of 150-plus scores, having converted each of his first four Test centuries into them. Taylor produced a fine outswinger from over-the-wicket that drew the drive and Denesh Ramdin took a relatively simple catch to his left.

That, however, was almost it for West Indies’ success for the day. As Smith had made his 147 from just 165 balls, Kallis took the cue. The bowling was far from vintage, especially when delivered by Daren Powell and Fidel Edwards. But Kallis looked to improvise against the innocuous fingerspin of Marlon Samuels and Sammy’s seam-up which barely reached more than 125 kph, taking advantage for a time of Ramdin’s baffling reluctance to stand up to the stumps. Kallis too was massively disappointed to fall for 74 (made from 101 deliveries) when he edged Samuels to Runako Morton at slip 10 overs after the lunch break, having outscored Prince (47) considerably.

Prince and de Villiers marched on, never looking like giving a chance as they pulled, drove, slashed and (occasionally) edged the wayward seamers and part-time spinner. Prince, never looking in a hurry and never appearing flustered until he got into the nineties (where he has already fallen three times in his Test career, including the run out in the previous match), nonetheless scored at a more-than-acceptable rate. Despite the nervousness of the nineties – he would have been run out on 96 if mid-on had scored a direct-hit – he settled down again once he’d broken the three-figure mark. It was his 7th Test century (plus the 3 nineties), and de Villiers was hot on his heels. Even Taylor eventually suffered as the batsman – who had scored quickly throughout – accelerated further still as he closed-in on the milestone, and brought it up from just 108 deliveries. This was the first time de Villiers had reached a century (though with 2 nineties of his own) batting down the order in Tests.

Smith waited until the end of the over to declare, and called his men in knowing they would have 11 overs at West Indies that evening (unusually, bad light was not going to present a problem as the skies remained clear throughout the day). Daren Ganga and Brenton Parchment had an undesirable task, but they played impressively to negotiate some menacing outswing from Dale Steyn – the bowler had a massive lbw turned-down against Ganga, and only one replay was shown so whether Aleem Dar was correct in adjudging an inside-edge could not be ascertained – and reached stumps 23 without loss, still 394 behind with a possible 270 overs (weather permitting) remaining. The pitch has played faultlessly after the opening hour, however, and the tourists can certainly regain some pride tomorrow. It will take a miracle – maybe more – to save the game and series, however.

Shaun Pollock’s announcement after the close that he was retiring from international cricket after this tour overshadowed the day somewhat. To play his last Test on his home ground, and play a part in a come-from-behind victory for his side, however, would be an ending difficult to better.

West Indies 139
Shaun Pollock 4-35, Andre Nel 3-45

South Africa 556 for 4 declared
Graeme Smith 147, Ashwell Prince 123*, AB de Villiers 103, Jacques Kallis 74, Hashim Amla 69

West Indies 23 for 0

West Indies trail by 394 with 10 second-innings wickets remaining

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