West Indies went into the second test against South Africa, determined to do well in their last outing after a wash out at Port Elizabeth and hopeless loss in the first test at Centurion. Despite losing an early wicket, the Caribbean side tried hard to recover but couldn’t prevent a middle order rout. Regardless, they could still muster 276/6 in 90 overs despite carrying a tag of among the weakest test cricket sides in the world. For South Africa, the reward came in the form of their chief bowler Dale Steyn taking two wickets and surpassing Makhaya Ntini’s 390 Test wickets. Steyn thus becomes the second bowler in South Africa’s all-time list of wicket takers. The next target for Steyn is 422 and that will take him past Shaun Pollock’s 421 wickets.
West Indies won the toss in the morning and chose to bat. After playing out Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander for two maiden overs, the first run came from a flick to long leg off Philander. That showed the cautious approach. Kraigg Brathwaite was not playing all that bad but in the 14th over of the innings, he tried to play a hard push to a ball from Steyn and got a thick outside edge and the gully fielder gulped up the catch. After the early strike, West Indies batsmen carried the score to 80 before Devon Smith fell to the last ball before lunch. Debutant bowler Simon Harmer’s joy knew no bounds as he began his journey to test cricket in his fifth over. Smith thought he would be able to cut that rather short ball but it was very close to his off stump. Smith was aghast as the ball caressed the bottom of his bat and dislodged the bails on his back. After holding on for two hours, it was a give-away from Smith.
After Lunch, Marlon Samuels and Leon Johnson batted with patience, adding 51 runs in about 13 overs. But yet again Harmer justified his selection for the test squad as he struck once more in the 39th over of the innings. Johnson was deceived by the angle and the pace of the ball, which came low down on his pad. It was a straight forward decision for the umpire, who raised his finger even before the LBW appeal could be completed. From 131/3, it became 172/5 in the 57th over, when Chanderpaul also fell to Harmer. The debutant had bowled down on the leg side and the veteran batsman moved up to flick Harmer. But he missed the ball and de Villiers stumped his quite easily. In 265 test innings, it was the first time that Chanderpaul had been out stumped. Just when it looked that the West Indians would cave in again, Denesh Ramdin and Jermaine Blackwood created a perfect 94-run stand for the sixth wicket. But Dale Steyn was waiting for his 391st test wicket and removed the doughty Ramdin in the 86th over. Steyn bowled a straight ball, which Ramdin wanted to play on the leg side. Instead, the West Indies skipper only succeeded in spooning a simple cath back to the bowler. After that Blackwood and Jason Holder played out the remaining four overs in the day as West Indies finished at 276/6.
It was a reasonable first day total for a side that has struggled with the batting in the recent past. Blackwood has patiently played 102 balls for his 45 runs and West Indies will strive to add as many runs on the second day as possible. For the home side, Harmer proved his mettle with 3/71 on debut and Dale Steyn has gone past Ntini. Overall, the day saw some good batting and bowling display from both sides.
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