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Windies drag it out

by GARTH WATTLEY in St Kitts

Windies drag it out

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“Cricket boring cricket, at Warner Park where I saw it.”The late Lord Beginner would have probably taken objection to the adaptation “of that line from his famous 1950 Victory Test calypso on the West Indies triumph at Lord’s.But he, Allan Rae, Jeffrey Stollmeyer, Frank Worrell and the other subjects of that classic would have been more offended at the farce the West Indies batsmen made of Test cricket yesterday.However, by the close of the day’s play at about ten minutes after six, their team was safe and will have a chance of squaring the series with one Test to go in Barbados.South Africa in their second innings were on 23 without loss after the West Indies had made 546 to take a negligible lead of three. It will be academic whatever happens on the final day today.But the West Indian method of saving themselves was painful on the eyes.However, coach Ottis Gibson defended his players’ approach.“Our only goal was to try and bat the whole day today,” he said after play.“It was not bat and don’t score, it was bat and score when the opportunity presents itself to score. If the bowling is a foot outside off-stump or a foot down leg-side and you can’t access the ball, where you can score shots with control, then there’s no need to play at those balls.“As much you’re saying we didn’t try to score, they didn’t try to get us out either with the tactics that they applied. It was one of those attritional sort of days.”In the first session, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo faced 26 overs – 156 balls – and scored 39 runs.Between lunch and tea, the South African bowlers delivered a further 29 overs, and still, all the six batsmen who took strike in that session could manage was another 39 runs.It was difficult to fathom the logic in the approach.West Indies began the fourth day still 119 runs adrift of South Africa. But they had made good ground on Day 3, amassing 338 runs for the loss of only three wickets.But the desire to ensure that they did not lose this match – and stop a sequence of eight defeats in a row on this tour by the South Africans – seemed to so consume the players.  Gibson said passing South Africa’s huge total “for a team that’s not got a lot of confidence . . . is a big confidence booster.”In earning that confidence booster though, Chanderpaul and Bravo effectively denied themselves some confidence-boosting landmarks.Chanderpaul began the day already on 151. And although he batted for a further two hours and 20 minutes yesterday, facing 93 balls, he only added15 runs more.Bravo was worse. Positive by nature in all he does, he did a Jekyl and Hyde and turned into a virtual strokeless wonder in moving from his overnight 21 to an eventual 51 despite facing 157 deliveries.In all, he faced 215 balls, just 20 short of  the most he has faced in a Test innings – 235. But back then, such occupation resulted in his first Test century against the same South Africans at the Antigua Recreation Ground in 2005.That was also a game glutted with runs on a pitch that never gave a chance of  a positive result.The Warner Park pitch is of a similar sort, and yesterday both sides responded negatively to the conditions.South African captain Graeme Smith employed his left-arm spinner Paul Harris (62-9-165-2) for 24 overs on the trot from the sixth over of the day through to tea. He set out to bowl outside of Bravo’s legs over after over and the batsman was just content to leave the ball or pad it away.Only two boundaries came in the session, both by Bravo off Morne Morkel. And Bravo went to lunch still needing six runs for a 50 when he could have been well along towards a fourth Test hundred.It was occupation without purpose.Lunch was taken at 463 for four. But in the second session the pace of the game picked up through the fall of four wickets.Chanderpaul’s long vigil eventually ended when he tamely pushed a return catch to Harris.Denesh Ramdin followed five runs later, cutting Lonwabo Tsotsobe to A.B. de Villiers at point.Bravo, caught by wicketkeeper Mark Boucher as he pushed at Harris and Shane Shillingford, held by de Villiers at second slip, were the other casualties as the West Indies suddenly lost four wickets for ten runs.At tea taken at 502 for eight, the Windies were still 41 short of the South African total with only two wickets left. Ultra defence had not put the home side in credit.But a  positive change of approach from Ravi Rampaul (31, three fours) and Sulieman Benn (26, three fours) eventually put them in front.The two lower order batsmen gave the small audience some belated entertainment, putting on 59 in 89 balls for the ninth wicket against Morkel and Dale Steyn. It was hurricane stuff in the context of the day and showed just how easy the pitch was still playing.It made the approach of their seniors earlier even more perplexing.
SOUTH AFRICA 543-6 dec’d. (AB de Villiers 135 not out, Graeme Smith 132, Jacques Kallis 110; Shane Shillingford 3-193)WEST INDIES 1st innings (overnight 424 for four)*C Gayle b Morkel     50T Dowlin c de Villiers b Morkel     10N Deonarine b Steyn     65S Chanderpaul c & b Harris     166B Nash run out     114D Bravo c wk Boucher b Harris     53+D Ramdin c Petersen b Tsotsobe     1S Shillingford c de Villiers b Kallis     7S Benn c Kallis b Morkel     26R Rampaul c wk Boucher b Morkel     31K Roach not out     1Extras (b1, lb7, w7, nb7)     22     TOTAL (all out; 181.1 overs)     546Fall of wkts: 1-13 (Dowlin), 2-106 (Gayle), 3-151 (Deonarine), 4-371 (Nash), 5-471 (Chanderpaul), 6-476 (Ramdin), 7-486 (Bravo), 8-486 (Shillingford), 9-545 (Rampaul), 10-546 (Benn).Bowling: Steyn 29-4-105-1, Morkel 34.1-9-116-4, Tsotsobe 28-10-68-1, Harris 62-9-165-2, Kallis 23-7-65-1, Petersen 5-0-19-0.SOUTH AFRICA 2nd innings*G Smith not out     13A Petersen not out     8Extras (w2)     2     TOTAL (without loss; 11 overs)     23Bowling: Roach 2-0-8-0, Rampaul 2-0-7-0, Benn 4-1-5-0, Shillingford 3-1-3-0.Position: South Africa lead by 20 runs.Umpires: Asad Rauf, Simon Taufel; TV – Steve Davis.Match referee: Jeff Crowe. (CMC)