South Africa romp to victory

Despite a lengthy delay as Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo put on a face-saving partnership of 144, South Africa wrapped-up the Third Test (and with it a 2-1 series win) against West Indies within three days. The star, for the umpteenth time in recent months, was Dale Steyn, who crashed through the middle- and lower-order in the evening session to finish with 6-72 and a final feather in the cap of what has been an outstanding home season.

The only question going into today was when, not if. The answer turned-out to be “today”. It did not take long for Steyn to start the rot, classically setting-up Brenton Parchment with a series of outswingers, followed by a pitched-to-order inswinger that trapped him plumb lbw. Daren Ganga’s miserable tour was completed soon after as he pushed at a delivery from Makhaya Ntini he did not need to play, and could only edge to Jacques Kallis at second-slip.

A quick kill might have been envisaged, but West Indies fought back. Initially it was Runako Morton – who has endured a series even more wretched than Ganga’s – who carried the fight. Steyn’s first 10 overs had cost 22, Ntini’s 8 18, but Morton smashed a run-a-ball 37 to change the face of their economy-rates. Shaun Pollock’s introduction immediately after the first drinks break, however, did for him, as he left one which cut back sharply into him and would have trimmed the bails. Andre Nel should have had Bravo not long after, as he confounded the Trinidadian all-rounder with a slower-ball but dropped a looping caught-and-bowled chance. Samuels too received a let-off, though he had advanced confidently to 41 by that stage, as Kallis missed a simple opportunity at second-slip – for the second time in the game – off an edged prod from Steyn’s bowling.

These misses meant West Indies advanced confidently to tea on 230 for 3. Samuels and Bravo had added 142 off just over 40 overs, with no bowler being spared. Graeme Smith was reduced to giving Hashim Amla a bowl for just the third time in Test cricket, and the first of more than a single over. The break appeared to break Bravo’s concentration, though, and he missed an attempted clip to leg to be trapped plumb once more in Steyn’s first over after the stoppage. AB de Villiers, after sustaining some damage to his hand attempting an almost impossible take off a crashing drive from Samuels – the ball from Pollock was a no-ball in any case – missed another from Darren Sammy, denying Nel another wicket. Nel had removed Denesh Ramdin, for his second cameo of the match, by then, but it was not the first time that drops had cost him dearly in his career.

They did not cost the team, as the new ball was taken in the 82nd over, just after Samuels had completed his 2nd Test century, 6 years after the previous one. He did not last long, as Steyn produced a superlative away-swinger that beat the defensive shot – it was likely to have beaten just about any shot from just about any batsman – and crashed into off-stump. Steyn may have cost himself a proportion of his match-fee after giving the batsman an unnecessary send-off, but from the wicket onwards his bowling could not have been much better. Ntini was somewhat unfortunate to be flogged for 25 in his 2 overs with the new cherry, but Steyn removed Sammy – caught and bowled off a leading-edge – and Daren Powell, completely beaten by a ball that did not move appreciably. The following over Fidel Edwards did much the same.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, in poor health, sensibly elected to stay in the pavilion, and South Africa had bowled West Indies out for 317 – the last 6 going down for 44 – to win by an innings and 100. Pollock, apart from the fact he took just 1 for 50, could not have wished for a much better way to end his Test career. For the second time in just over 12 months, his side have come from behind to win a 3-Test home series which they had been expected to dominate.

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 317
Marlon Samuels 105, Dwayne Bravo 75
Dale Steyn 6-72

South Africa won by an innings and 100 runs

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