Patient Windies grind South Africa for 546 runs – Digicel Cricket Report
The Second Digicel Test at Warner Park is almost certainly destined for a tame draw, most notably due to a pitch which is depressingly in favour of batsmen who simply have to stick around to score heavily. Five have scored centuries, four scored fifties and in two innings, one thousand and eighty four runs were scored and only 16 wickets were had.
At the end of day four, South Africa – just beginning to bat for the second time – are 23 without loss with an overall lead of 20 after an inconsequential three run lead was secured by the Windies who – despite a placid pitch – made an admirable 546 all out. Captain Graeme Smith is not out on 13 and Alviro Petersen has 8.
The home side’s response to South Africa’s 543 for 6 declared was built – as has become the norm in recent times especially – on Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s 357 ball marathon innings.
Chanderpaul added just 15 runs to his overnight 151n despite batting for over two hours and twenty minutes on the fourth day. In the first session, Chanderpaul scored 12 runs and did not hit a single boundary on the day to add to his ten fours and lone six on day three. Chanderpaul was out in tame fashion, when an attempted drive resulted in a leading edge for Harris to complete a caught and bowled and the stodgy left hander had to make his way back to the pavilion to warm applause after scoring 166.
Dwayne Bravo played an uncharacteristically patient hand, matching Chanderpaul for dogged resistance. He spent 215 deliveries over 53 painstaking runs before he edged to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher off Harris’s left arm spin. It marked Boucher’s 499th dismissal in tests. Harris finally got a reward after spending the entire morning session and much of the second session as well, bowling a negative leg stump line to Bravo when not delivering wide outside off stump to Chanderpaul.
Chanderpaul and Bravo – usually a study in contrasting batting styles when at the crease together – adopted a similarly unwearied approach, batting to an obvious team plan to occupy the crease and were in no rush whatsoever to score runs. They were content to defend, prod, pad up, push, pick up a single every few overs and ended up producing just 39 runs in the first session.
There was the danger of West Indies totally collapsing once Chanderpaul departed, but that as averted by a 59 run eight wicket partnership between Ravi Rampaul and Sulieman Benn who struck entertaining knocks of 31 and 26 respectively. The pair took the Windies past the South African total before both were dismissed, allowing the South Africans to return to the crease after almost two full days in the field.
Rampaul and Benn staged a recovery following a mini-collapse after the loss of Chanderpaul’s wicket at 471 for 5. The home team lost four wickets for 15 runs before the two bowlers combined for an aggressive knock which visibly frustrated the Proteas.
Both tailenders struck three fours as they nursed the Windies past South Africa’s 543. Rampaul’s innings was ended with the score on 545 and Benn fell one run later in the 182nd over. Rampaul’s wicket was historic as his edge was Boucher’s 500th test dismissal which is beyond what any other wicketkeeper in history has managed to achieve.
Morne Morkel endured the deadpan pitch for 34.1 overs to claim four wickets for 116 runs as three South African bowlers went for over 100. Harris’s 62 overs of left arm spin cost 165 runs as he was rewarded with two wickets, while Dale Steyn’s 29 overs went for 105 runs as he took one wicket as did Lonswabo Tsotsobe (28-10-68-1) and Jacques Kallis (23-7-65-1).
Well over an hour was lost at the start of the final session, but neither team would be unhappy with the shortening play as the match is likely to peter out into a draw thereby ensuring that South Africa cannot lose the three match Digicel Series after winning the First Digicel Test in Trinidad. The final Digicel Test is slated for the Kensington Oval in Barbados where the pitch is unlikely to be as unfair towards bowlers as the one at Warner Park has been.