ESPNcricinfo – West Indies had the better of large swathes of day three, but Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, with bat and ball respectively, made the high-impact contributions that ensured South Africa were still in control of the game at stumps.
Kraigg Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels put on an unbroken 92-run stand after Morkel had rocked West Indies with twin strikes just before tea, and West Indies were 71 short of the follow-on mark when rain and bad light brought play to a close. After a wet outfield delayed the start of play, West Indies’ seamers scythed through South Africa’s middle order in rain-freshened conditions.
It meant South Africa had lost five wickets for 74 runs starting with Faf du Plessis’ dismissal on the rain-soaked second day. Steyn counterattacked thereafter, and hastened South Africa’s declaration with a 28-ball 58 that lifted South Africa’s score from 369 to 417 in five manic overs after lunch.
Clearing his front leg against Jerome Taylor and stepping confidently down the track to Sulieman Benn, Steyn freed his arms and struck the ball with ferocious power. He swatted Taylor for two big sixes either side of a clanging drive down the ground for four, before taking a blow to the left forearm at the non-striker’s end when Vernon Philander attempted to partake of the fun with a meaty straight hit.
That didn’t hamper Steyn in any way, though, as he carved Benn for a four and two big sixes in the arc between extra cover and long-off, before holing out attempting another big hit. Hashim Amla declared as soon as Jason Holder wrapped his hands around the ball at long-on.
West Indies began solidly in reply, moving past 50 without loss before Morkel arrived to ruin the taste of their tea. Coming on as first change, Morkel hit Devon Smith on the side of the helmet with a bouncer in his second over, but otherwise stuck to a fullish length, angling the ball into the left-hander from around the wicket and getting a couple to seam away. Smith, front foot striding hesitantly to the ball, poked at one of them and edged a catch to first slip.
Morkel then suckered Leon Johnson, another left-hander, into driving away from his body at an even fuller ball and du Plessis at third slip took an excellent low catch.
Brathwaite had looked assured at the other end, batting with more freedom than he is known to, striking four fours before tea including two in two balls against Vernon Philander, a crisp straight drive followed by a sweetly timed back-foot punch through the covers. He continued to look impressive after tea, cutting Steyn for two fours in an over and otherwise keeping the strike rolling over. He survived a tough chance when Imran Tahir failed to hold onto a rasping straight hit, but was otherwise untroubled in making his seventh Test half-century.
Samuels used his feet well to Tahir and hit him for five fours as he moved to 60 off 92 balls. He was less assured against the quicker bowlers at first, sending a thick edge flying wide of second slip off Steyn and having an lbw decision overturned after Morkel had struck him high on the pad with a sharp indipper that, according to Hawkeye, would have cleared the top of the stumps. Philander produced some reverse swing late in the day and had Samuels edging streakily to the third man boundary, but there was less help from the surface than there had been at the start of the morning.
There are few more daunting sights for a bowling side at 289 for 3 than Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers walking out to bat, but West Indies managed to dismiss both in the space of seven balls. Amla struck two fours off Taylor in the first over of the day, but Jason Holder brushed away the ominous signs with a ball that nipped back to get him lbw. There seemed to be doubts over the line of impact and the height, but Amla was shown to be right not to review, with Hawkeye saying umpire’s call on both counts.
In the next over, Taylor produced the ball of the Test match. It was set up by the ball before, which angled in sharply towards de Villiers and struck him on the pad as he looked to work it into the leg side.
The umpire ruled not out, West Indies reviewed, and Hawkeye showed it to be shaving leg stump, not enough of it to overturn the umpire’s decision. The next ball followed a similar trajectory three-fourths of its way to the batsman, angling in towards middle and off stump, but veered away late in the air, sneaked past the closed face of de Villiers’ bat, and crashed into off stump.
South Africa had lost their three best batsmen for the addition of 30 runs, and into this situation were thrust Temba Bavuma, on debut, and Stiaan van Zyl, with one Test behind him. Taylor and Holder found both their edges and Holder had a big lbw shout turned down when Bavuma shouldered arms to an in-ducker, before a bowling change brought West Indies the breakthrough.
Before the Test began, Bavuma had suggested with surprising candour that his lack of height could be a disadvantage on bouncy pitches, and Shannon Gabriel produced a lifter that few batsmen could have done anything about. It followed Bavuma even as he tried to sway out of the way, and was too quick for him to drop his hands and prevent a scrape of glove through to the keeper.
Kenroy Peters then completed a morning in which every West Indian seamer picked up a wicket. Van Zyl sliced and drove the left-armer for two fours in three balls, and it was evident he would keep going after anything outside off stump. He sent the fifth ball rolling to the keeper off the inside edge, and then, chasing away from his body again, nicked the sixth to the keeper.
Scores: West Indies 147 for 2 (Brathwaite 65*, Samuels 60*, Morkel 2-24) trail South Africa 417 for 8 dec (Elgar 121, du Plessis 103, Steyn 58) by 270 runs.
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