The fairytale continued for the weakened West Indies on the third day of the First Test here yesterday. In spite of the absence of Brian Lara and two other key batsmen, Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, because of a sponsorship dispute, the reconstituted team have risen above the negativity to dominate their favoured opponents.
Led by individual double hundreds and a record fourth wicket partnership of 282 between their two remaining experienced batsmen, Wavell Hinds and new captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul, they hit 543 for 5 declared, their highest total against South Africa, over the first two days.
On the rain-shortened third day, their fast bowlers rocked the South African top order with three wickets in five balls and reduced them to 130 for 6, behind by 413.
With two days remaining, the unthinkable prospect of a West Indies victory is not out of the question, although the realisation that the South African batting is unlikely to crumble again on a placid pitch and, not least, Guyana's equatorial weather are factors likely to deny them.
Their bowlers were kept waiting by a rain-drenched outfield until half-way through the day before they could start their quest to capitalise on the returns of their batsmen.
Once they got going, they made a sensational start that left South Africa floundering at 16 for 3 in the fourth over, 44 for 4 at tea after an hour's play and 95 for 6 before wicket-keeper Mark Boucher and left-handed all-rounder Nicky Boje checked their advance with a partnership of 35 that carried them through to close.
The early damage was done by Pedro Collins, whose left-arm swing removed captain Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs, and Daren Powell, a slim, bustling Jamaican whose 90mph pace accounted for Jacques Rudolph and Jacques Kallis. Reon King, the third of the fast attack, took over from Collins to remove opener AB deVilliers and Andrew Hall.
Smith, Rudolph and Kallis fell in the space of five balls in successive overs. A ball from Collins that swung away late found the left-handed Smith's edge in the third over for a straightforward catch to wicket-keeper Courtney Browne.
At the opposite end, the 26-year-old Powell, in his first Test since the series in Bangladesh in 2002, despatched the left-handed Rudolph to Ryan Hinds' sharp, low catch at third slip with the first ball of the next over. Two balls later, Kallisattempted an ill-advised pull shot that found the inside-edge on its way into to the stumps.
Gibbs only had time to stroke a boundary to third man before Collins pinned him on the back foot and gained a clearcut lbw decision from umpire Aleem Dar.
While his partners tumbled on a pitch that South Africa's coach Ray Jennings complained overnight was too easy-paced and detrimental to proper cricket, De Villiers batted with assurance. He gathered 41, troubled only by a leg-stump yorker from Powell that he just managed to keep out, before he diverted a catch to Browne off King.
When Hall's mistimed pull off King was brilliantly caught inches from the ground by Collins, diving forward from mid-on, South Africa were in the mire at 95 for 6 but Boucher, who needed 21 balls to score his first run, and Boje held firm.
It has been a memorable few days for Chanderpaul, who shared in a partnership with Wavell Hinds worth 284, hit his own double-century to the delight of his home crowd, and who has enjoyed the pressures of captaincy.Reuse content