When the light darkened, the lightning flashed, the thunder rolled and the rain arrived at the Wanderers to end the fourth day 28 overs early, South Africa were about to set out on their quest for 164 for victory.
Disciplined bowling, with Shaun Pollock's 4 for 49 carrying him to his 100th wicket in his 26th Test, exploited technical and temperamental batting frailties and dismissed the West Indies for 170 in their second innings. It set up what should be a straightforward objective but home optimism is tempered by history and a cracked pitch of uneven bounce.
In the Barbados Test of March 1992, their first since their return to the international fold after 22 years, they began the last day 122 for 2, requiring 79 to win. Instead, they were routed by the same Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh who again stand between them and glory, their last eight wickets tumbling for 26.
Ambrose and Walsh have achieved similar rescue acts several times since. But their support is limited to the fast bowler Nixon McLean, in his fourth Test, and the leg-spinner Rawl Lewis, in his second, with the off-spin of Carl Hooper likely to be again missing because of a strained groin muscle.
The bigger threat to South Africa's hopes is likely to be the stormy weather.
After restricting South Africa to a negligible lead of seven on the third day, the West Indies appeared to hold the advantage of bowling on a last day pitch of dubious quality. But they would have sought a more substantial total than their eventual 170.
They were choked by the quality pace combination of Pollock and Allan Donald, which accounted for Philo Wallace, Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul for 38 within the first 50 minutes.
It was a tough grind after that. The opener Clayton Lambert needed 114 balls and nearly three hours over 33, Hooper spent two hours and 90 balls over 34 and the left-handed wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs just under three hours and 126 balls for a resolute 42.
The innings was wrapped up as the last three wickets tumbled in three balls.
Fourth day; West Indies won toss
WEST INDIES - First Innings 261 (S Chanderpaul 74).
SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings 268 (G Kirsten 62; C A Walsh 4-66).
WEST INDIES - Second Innings
(Overnight: 20 for 0)
C B Lambert c Boucher b Symcox 33
P A Wallace b Pollock 14
*B C Lara lbw b Donald 7
S Chanderpaul lbw b Pollock 1
S C Williams c Kallis b Terbrugge 12
R D Jacobs c Terbrugge b Symcox 42
C L Hooper lbw b Kallis 34
R N Lewis lbw b Pollock 10
N A M McLean c Cullinan b Symcox 11
C E L Ambrose not out 0
C A Walsh lbw b Pollock 0
Extras (b1 nb5) 6
Fall: 1-24 2-33 3-38 4-53 5-80 6-148 7-148 8-170 9-170.
Bowling: Donald 15-6-28-1 (1nb); Pollock 20.3-4-49-4; Terbrugge 14-5- 23-1; Kallis 14-5-26-1; Symcox 18-9-43-3.
Umpires: C J Mitchley and D R Shepherd.
n Zimbabwe were heading for their first Test victory abroad after Henry Olonga and Mpum-elelo Mbangwa routed Pakistan for 103 in their second innings in the first Test in Peshawar yesterday. Needing 162 to win, Zimbabwe reached 70 for 1 at the close of the third day.
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