South Africa went wicket-less in the first 21 overs of the morning before Vernon Philander got Devon Smith © Getty Images (File Photo)
South Africa went wicket-less in the first 21 overs of the morning before Vernon Philander got Devon Smith © Getty Images (File Photo)

Dec 19, 2014

Honours were even at the end of the First session on Day three at Centurion as West Indies were reduced to 110 for two. The session had Begun brightly for the West Indies but two untimely wickets tilted the balance. Vernon Philander was the pick of the South African bowlers, getting rid of both openers.

Play began half an hour early to make up for the time lost due to rain on Day-2. South Africa had declared at 552 for five on the brink of the tea break. Incessant rain however forced an early end to Day-2. South Africa would have fancied their chances against a presumably frail West Indies top order on an overcast third morning. Euphemism was in the air as premature obituaries were written for the tourists.  What transpired how ever came as a whiff of fresh air, as the West Indies openers radiated tranquillity. They looked strangely assured against the Best bowling attack in the world, in their backyard. They notched up a fifty-run stand in the first one hour. It wasn’t all about surviving either, They capitalised on anything remotely loose dished out by the Proteas. Kraigg Brathwaite and Devon Smith matched each other block for block and shot for shot. They left the ball well, and waited for the patience of the South African bowlers to run out. Kraigg Brathwaite had a stroke of good fortune when was nearly run out in a freakish manner. The bat had slipped out of his hand well before he’d made his ground but luckily for him the ball missed the stumps by a whisker.

Fortunes fluctuated like English weather as South Africa had the rub of the green go their way soon after. Devon Smith must be commended for not showing dissent upon what was an absolute howler. Even more so considering that he was ruled not out for a caught behind appeal by the on-field umpire. The third umpire however, seemed to have noticed something that missed the average eye looking at the same pictures, as he inexplicably overruled the original decision. The ball had discernibly come off the thigh of Devon, Snicko corroborated the fact that he’d missed the ball. But Vernon Philander had struck for South Africa, breaking the 72-run opening stand. As it is with most top teams, you give them an opening, they slam door down. Kraigg Brathwaite followed suit as he was nicked out by a probing Vernon Philander. All the good work of the morning had gone to the dogs as the West Indies lost two wickets for a solitary run and as a result were forced to begin from scratch. Leon Johnson and Marlon Samuels will have their work cut out post lunch as the West Indies look to achieve their first target, that of avoiding the follow on. They are still 253 runs adrift from the follow on Target.

Brief Scores:

South Africa 552 for 5 decl. (Hashim Amla 208, AB de Villiers 152; Kemar Roach 2 for 52) lead West Indies 110  for 2 ( Devon Smith 35, Kraigg Brathwaite 34; Vernon Philander 2 for 19 ) by 442 runs

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