The West Indies batting demons continue to haunt them after a one match absence in the Second Digicel Test in St Kitts when they scored 546 on a friendly pitch. On day one of the Third Digicel Test at the Kensington Oval, their batsmen took backward steps and reverted to their old habits as displayed in the First Digicel Test when they were bowled out for a paltry102. On Saturday they were loose, uncommitted and cavalier.
The approach resulted in them being bowled out for a modest 231 in 73.5 overs. At the close of play, South Africa were 46 for the loss of opener, Alviro Petersen (1) and Hashim Amla (5), as Graeme Smith is not out on 35 and nightwatchman Paul Harris is on 2. The Proteas are 185 runs behind with eight wickets in hand.
West Indian talisman all rounder, Dwayne Bravo, who has been gradually returning to form with the bat top scored with 61 to follow his half century in the previous encounter. Narsingh Deonarine was next best with 46 and there were scores of 20s from Denesh Ramdin (27), Sulieman Benn (24), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (22) and Chris Gayle (20).
Thirty three year old Dale Richards – the Barbadian opener who was brought in to help rectify the top order failures – made no impact as he was lbw to Morne Morkel without scoring. As early as the fourth over, West Indies were 12 for 1. Two overs later, Gayle continued to demonstrate a lack of application as he attempted to cut a delivery too close to his body for the shot, played on – as he had done twice before in the series – and was bowled. 21 for 2.
Deonarine and Chanderpaul then joined forces to put on 55 runs as they took the score to 76 for 2 at lunch. Immediately after the interval, Chanderpaul was remarkably caught – low down and with one hand – by Jacques Kallis at slip as off spinner, Johan Botha, went on a three wicket romp to leave the Windies in dire straits at 105 for 5.
His second wicket necessitated the use of the dreaded Umpire Decision Review System. Brendan Nash (2) was struck high on the pad and Umpire, Simon Taufel, negated the appeal but the South Africans had the decision reviewed and reversed after television replays showed the ball would have gone on to hit the stumps.
Deonarine, who had played responsibly alongside his mentor Chanderpaul up to lunch then changed tactics as he looked to bash every delivery as if in Twenty20 mode. He succeeded until he was four short of a half century when he was bowled by Botha who is playing his first game of the series as the South Africans opted to mimic the Windies and play two spinners.
Bravo and Ramdin then repaired the damage with a 76 run stand that took the score to 181 when Ramdin joined his colleagues in donating his wicket to the Proteas. The wicketkeeper hooked at a short ball from Kallis and got a top edge which flew to fine leg where Steyn took a fine tumbling catch to bring an end to the partnership which brought a faint hint of respectability to the Windies total.
After Ramdin returned to the pavilion, Shane Shillingford was Kallis’ second victim when he was caught at gully for a duck and Bravo tickled Steyn to Smith at first slip after 147 minutes at the crease during which time he had faced 104 balls and struck four fours and one of fives sixes in the innings.
Benn cracked two sixes and two fours during his entertaining 36 ball knock at the end as he put on 24 runs for the last wicket with surprise debutant and last man Brandon Bess (11*).
The Windies’ day started in dramatic fashion as pacer, Nelon Pascal, collapsed during the pre-game warm-up with a strained neck muscle. With no fast bowling cover in the squad since the thigh injury ruled out St Lucian medium pacer Darren Sammy, the team management were forced to hurriedly call on Bess, the lanky 22 year old Guyanese to hustle over from the nearby High Performance Center at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus for a Test debut.
When South Africa batted, Bess opened the attack alongside Kemar Roach but in his first over he was spanked for two fours by Smith and an under edge went away for a third as the over cost 13 runs. After one more over, he was pulled from the attack and Shane Shillingford was allowed to continue in front a disappointing crowd.
Roach who bowled with disconcerting pace made the initial breakthrough when Petersen lost control of a pull and skied to Chanderpaul while Benn benefitted from a loose cut shot by Amla who was caught by Nash at gully. Smith calmed nerves as he hit five powerful fours off 42 deliveries to take his team to the close. His team would have been satisfied with the day’s work but they would be cogniscent that their satisfaction was aided by the Windies carelessness.