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Windies under pressure to save the first Test


Windies under pressure to save the first Test
South Africa players celebrate a wicket. (WIPA)

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Gros Islet – West Indies hopes of saving the first Test against South Africa in St. Lucia took a nose dive, after incisive pace bowling from Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje blew away their top order batting in the second innings.

This followed an unbeaten, sixth Test hundred of 141 from Quinton de Kock that propelled the South Africans to a first innings total of 322 and a lead of 225 on the second day of the Test at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground.

The fragility of the Windies batting was again cruelly exposed in the face of aggressive bowling from Rabada and Nortje and they crumbled to 82 for four in their second innings when stumps were drawn, still 143 in arrears.

Roston Chase was not out on 21 and his vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood was not out on 10 at the close, but they had endured a torrid period at the crease from Rabada, who has taken two for 18 from 10 overs, and Nortje, who has captured two for 34 from eight overs.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite was lbw to Rabada for seven, playing back and across in the fifth over of the innings, a decision confirmed after a successful South African review of umpire Joel Wilson’s decision.

Kieran Powell too, was lbw to Rabada for 14, playing across a well-pitched delivery, but he did not enjoy the same fortune when he referred Wilson’s verdict for review in the 11th over.

Shai Hope was caught at third slip off Nortje for 12, squared up by a short, rising delivery that moved away, and Kyle Mayers tried to fight fire with fire before he was caught at third slip for 12, slicing a drive at a full-length delivery.

West Indies were fortunate two overs later, when Chase, on six, essayed a flick and was dropped by leg-gully fielder Kyle Verraynne off pacer Lungi Ngidi with the home team on 51 for four.

Earlier, West Indies – led by lanky all-rounder Jason Holder – bowled South Africa out before tea, but de Kock blunted their attack to fortify the visitors’ grip on the contest.

Holder defied a bout of cramp at the height of a tireless effort and ended with four for 75 from 20.5 overs to show his value to the side and further advertise his label of the No.1 all-rounder in the World.

But the Windies met resistance from de Kock, and the South African wicketkeeper/batsman swung Mayers over long leg for six to reach his milestone from 148 balls.

Once before he reached his hundred and once after he reached the milestone, the Caribbean side gave de Kock reprieves. He was 84, when Mayers dropped him at deep square leg off Jayden Seales from a miscued hook, and he was 118, when Holder had him caught at long-leg off another miscued hook at a no-ball.

Before lunch, Holder gave West Indies their only breakthrough, when he had Rassie van der Dussen caught at gully for 46, flirting outside the off-stump in the first hour, but either side of the interval, de Kock and Wiaan Mulder shared 53 for the sixth wicket to take the steam out of the hosts.

Holde had Mulder caught behind for 25, edging a back-foot drive in the third over after lunch.

Off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall had Keshav Maharaj caught at forward short leg for a 10-ball duck, playing defensively forward, and Kemar Roach had Kagiso Rabada caught at second slip for four, groping outside the off-stump to help cause of West Indies.

But the Windies failed to press home their advantage and de Kock dominated a 79-run stand for the ninth wicket with Nortje to take the wind out of the home team’s comeback.

Holder persevered after his indiscretion with the popping crease and removed Nortje, caught at gully for seven, gloving a snorter, and Lungi Ngidi, caught behind for a duck, edging a loose drive, to wrap up the innings of the Proteas.

Summarised scores:

West Indies 97 (Jason Holder 20, Kraigg Brathwaite 15, Shai Hope 15, Rahkeem Cornwall 13, Nkrumah Bonner 10; Lungi Ngidi 13.5-7-19-5, Anrich Nortje 4-35) and 82 for four (Roston Chase 21 not out, Kieran Powell 14, Shai Hope 12, Kyle Mayers 12; Kagiso Rabada 2-18, Anrich Nortje 2-34).

South Africa 322 (Quinton de Kock 141 not out, Aiden Makram 60, Rassie van der Dussen 46, Wiaan Muler 25, Keegan Petersen 19; Jason Holder 4-75, Jayden Seales 3-75, Kemar Roach 2-64).

(AR)