Wickets tumble as WI stands tall

The West Indies remained in firm control of the first Test against South Africa, even as just 36.5 overs of play were possible on day three. In a period of about 3 hours, the home side claimed six South African wickets to leave the visitors struggling at 130/6, still 413 runs behind on first innings.

It was a spirited display from the West Indies, helped by poor shot selection and approach by South Africa which caused the unexpected turn. Overnight and morning rain ensured that play did not begin until around 2:30pm, but it was well worth the wait for the local supporters.

Pedro Collins made the first inroad and wasted little time in doing so, getting Graeme Smith (2) caught behind in the third over of the innings. It was then Daren Powell’s turn to make his mark, returning to Test cricket after a near 2-year absence.

The Jamaican pace bowler found pace and life on the dead Bourda track and used it to excite the spectators and lift his team with two crucial blows. First Powell got Jacques Rudolph (0) to edge his first ball low down to Ryan Hinds in the slip cordon, who took a good catch.

A couple balls after, the celebration was scarcely contained with the wicket of Kallis. The leading South African batsman attempted an ambitious hook shot to counter the second delivery he saw, and managed to drag the ball onto his stumps. Gone for a duck, he left the score at a stunning 16/3.

Things progressively worsened, as Gibbs (5) was trapped LBW on the back foot to Collins. The young de Villiers then went with the experience Mark Boucher to tea with 4 down.

The resumption saw a bit more secure play from South Africa, until local boy Reon King got in on the action. Playing his first Test in almost 4 years, King found the inside edge of de Villiers’ bat and Courtney Browne tidied up behind the stumps to end a promising innings of 41.

In his 85-ball stay, AB de Villiers looked far more assured than any of his the top order team-mates and remained positive with 7 fours. His one fault was a tendency to play at balls more fit to be left alone outside offstump. Irony ensured that to be his demise.

Andrew Hall took his guard and pushed Powell positively through the covers to get off the mark, but he then engineered his downfall against King. Pulling at a ball well wide off offstump, Hall was brilliantly caught low down by Pedro Collins at midon and the crowd erupted once more.

Continuing to stand firm was Mark Boucher (32 not out) and he found a worthy partner in Nicky Boje (21 not out), as the two batsmen took South Africa to stumps. Boje at times encountered low bounce even on the flat batting pitch, but weathered the initial uncertainty well.

The close of play came rather sooner than it should have, as Shivnarine Chanderpaul erred in decision-making for the second consecutive day. The debuting West Indies captain summoned the pace of Daren Powell in fading light which brought an immediate offer of bad light from the umpires, to the glee and acceptance of the South Africans.

Score Summary:

West Indies 1st innings 543/5 dec. (152.1 overs)
WW Hinds 213, S Chanderpaul 203 not out, RO Hinds 48
A Nel 3/93, CK Langeveldt 1/65, N Boje 1/106

South Africa 1st innings 130/6 (37 overs)
AB de Villiers 41, MV Boucher 32 not out, N Boje 21 not out
RD King 2/32, PT Collins 2/33, DB Powell 2/42

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