West Indies still trails by four after de Villiers’s 148 gives host 92-run advantage on first innings
West Indies enjoyed one of its better days on tour, but it was still a fair distance away from making South Africa sweat in the third and final Test at Newlands in Cape Town on Sunday (January 4).
After conceding a lead of 92 after AB de Villiers produced another bruising century, West Indies began its second innings solidly, but lost both openers in quick succession. Marlon Samuels (26) and Leon Johnson (37) then occupied the crease for 20.1 overs to add 61 runs as the visitor ended the third day on 88 for 2 in 34 overs, needing another four runs to make South Africa bat again.
Samuels brought his experience of 54 previous Test matches to the fore against a fired up pace attack. While he was lucky to be dropped on 14 when Morne Morkel put down a low chance at mid-on, he managed to shepherd Johnson, who was comfortably the more attractive of the two batsmen.
Johnson, who had made scores of 31, 39 and 0 in three previous innings on tour, admirably negated the new ball threat to hit five fours, including two in the final over off Dale Steyn to round off a satisfying day for the visitor.
But the day clearly belonged to de Villiers, who stroked a magnificent 192-ball 148. His 21st Test century was one of flamboyance with a touch of unorthodoxy as South Africa, which resumed on 227 for 3 in reply to West Indies’ 329, built up a sizable first-innings total of 421.
De Villiers found support from Stiaan van Zyl (33) after Hashim Amla departed for 63. De Villiers and van Zyl added 96 for the seventh wicket before Samuels struck. With a little more support from the tail, South Africa could have built a bigger lead but that wasn't to be.
Vernon Philander committed hara-kiri as he was run out for a duck at the non-striker’s end immediately after van Zyl's dismissal to leave South Africa at 385 for 7 in the post lunch session. Then, Simon Harmer, the debutant, was trapped lbw by Jerome Taylor for 10.
Steyn’s recent contributions with the bat would have given de Villiers hope of extending the lead, but another run out hit South Africa. Steyn, who was called through by de Villiers, was caught short of the crease at the striker’s end after a direct hit by Johnson from cover.
The innings drew to a close two overs later when de Villiers holed out to long-on, two short of what would have been a well-deserved 150.
Devon Smith and Kraigg Brathwaite started well in the West Indian second innings before Morkel got a lucky breakthrough. Smith, who faced 35 deliveries for his 7, glanced a full ball down the legside to de Villiers behind the stumps. Harmer then made it a double strike when he dismissed Brathwaite (16) with a beauty that spun back in to hit offstump.
A familiar collapse loomed, until Samuels and Johnson steered the team to stumps as West Indies lived to fight another day.
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