Clinical South Africa wrap up series 2-0

South Africa inflicted a dispiriting series loss on West Indies at a venue that was once the home team’s fortress and finished the bilateral tour unbeaten. Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s hopes of compiling a competitive lead on the fourth morning were quashed by a menacing spell from Morne Morkel, who cut through the West Indies tail to ensure a quick end to their resistance.

Chanderpaul had stood firm amid West Indies’ capitulation on the third day, and taken his team into the lead with support from Shane Shillingford, who was dismissed shortly before stumps. The men who followed, though, were unable to put up a fight.

South Africa edge ahead on attritional day

AB de Villiers and Ashwell Prince dug in to scupper a West Indian fightback by Sulieman Benn and put South Africa in a position of control in the deciding Test. Benn’s probing left-armers had given the hosts a massive boost with the wickets of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, who had forged a threatening stand, but an approach combining patience and determination from de Villiers and Prince, backed up by a bit of luck, helped South Africa lay the stage for a potentially decisive lead on a track expected to deteriorate.

Botha, seamers make it South Africa’s day

South Africa’s decision to play an extra spinner on a track that has traditionally been the most favourable for fast bowlers in the Caribbean paid rich dividends. Johan Botha, replacing Lonwabo Tsotsobe, crippled West Indies with three quick wickets, undermining the resistance that the hosts had determinedly built after the early loss of the openers. Dwayne Bravo and Denesh Ramdin then battled the bowlers in a 76-run stand, but the seamers, led by Jacques Kallis, bowled with venom after tea to end a disappointing West Indies performance in conditions far friendlier than what Barbados has offered in the past.

Draw looms after Windies adopt go-slow tactics

It took a bit of struggle and a lot of waiting but West Indies finally succeeded in matching South Africa’s total of 543 in what was largely an excruciatingly slow day of Test cricket. The hosts were well-set at the end of the third day to press forward and possibly gain a lead of 100-150 to set up a sporting declaration. But the overnight pair of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo instead settled for negative and defensive tactics, the kind which would give Test-cricket bashers a field day.

Nash and Chanderpaul script Windies fightback

West Indies finally claimed ownership of an entire day’s play and it came via a defiant double-century partnership between the two most patient batsmen in the line-up, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brendan Nash. The pair hit counter-attacking centuries to negate the aggression of the seamers and blunt out anything the slower bowlers dished out on what continued to be an unresponsive surface of the bowlers. West Indies breezed past the follow-on mark and redressed the balance after two days of toil in the field.

South Africa retain edge on run-heavy day

The South Africans continued to cruise along a Country Road of a pitch at Warner Park for the second day in a row, increasing their century count to three before eventually declaring at a seemingly unassailable 543. Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers made contrasting centuries against a listless bowling attack, and though West Indies weren’t guilty of any glaring errors unlike the opening day, their body language suggested they were waiting for the inevitable declaration.

Smith ton puts SA in early command

It all went to prediction after South Africa won the toss on a road of a pitch at Warner Park. The top order capitalised on excellent batting conditions and a tepid display in the field to set a platform for a massive first-innings score. At the helm was Graeme Smith, who made a fortuitous century, supported by valuable contributions from Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and some ordinary catching. It was hard work for the hosts who had to derive inspiration from themselves rather than turn to a barely audible crowd, going by the disappointing numbers on the opening day.

South Africa complete crushing win

What was a rout on day three proved harder graft on day four as South Africa’s bowlers, for the second time in as many days, worked their way through the West Indies line-up to deliver a comprehensive 163-run victory.

For West Indies fans, the past fifteen years has been a case of dragging positives out the wreckage of defeat and today only Chris Gayle, who resisted stoically for 73, and Dwayne Bravo emerged with much credit. While in charge of England’s bowlers recently Ottis Gibson had twice watched South Africa denied by iron-willed resistance, but in his first Test as West Indies coach there were no heroics from the batting team.

Steyn and Morkel put South Africa on top

South Africa ended the third day at the Queen’s Park Oval in a position of total dominance thanks to the fearsome bowling combination of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, who combined to skittle West Indies for just 102 in their first innings.

After Morkel’s opening burst left the hosts’ top order in tatters, Steyn ripped through the middle and lower order to take 5 for 29 and become the fourth fastest bowler to reach 200 Test wickets behind Clarrie Grimmett, Dennis Lillee and Waqar Younis. Graeme Smith gave his bowlers a rest after their hard work, choosing not to enforce the follow-on, and by the close he had found the form that had eluded him on the tour thus far to take South Africa to 155 for 2 with an unbeaten 79, a lead of 405.

Boucher and Benn share honours on tight day

Sulieman Benn picked up his second five-wicket haul in Tests, finishing with 5 for 120 as South Africa were eventually bowled out for 352, but the visitors will feel they had the better of an attritional second day at the Queens Park Oval. Twice West Indies had South Africa in real trouble; firstly when nightwatchman Paul Harris and Jacques Kallis fell in quick succession, and then again when Ashwell Prince and AB de Villiers fell within four overs of each other after putting adding 122 to leave South Africa wobbling at 238 for 7.