De Villiers turns the screw on West Indies

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The Independent Online

South Africa's second-wicket pair, AB de Villiers and Boeta Dippenaar, continued their slow, deliberate torment of the West Indies on the third day of the Third Test until a run-out in the last over before lunch brought relief to the home team.

South Africa's second-wicket pair, AB de Villiers and Boeta Dippenaar, continued their slow, deliberate torment of the West Indies on the third day of the Third Test until a run-out in the last over before lunch brought relief to the home team.

Dippenaar attempted a single to short-fine leg but was well short at the bowler's end when substitute Dwayne Smith's throw broke the stumps, It seemed the only way the West Indies could claim a wicket on a pitch reminiscent of those that made Kensington Oval a batting paradise in the 1950s and 1960s.

In his first match of the series, Dippenaar was on his way to the third hundred of the innings when dismissed for 71. De Villiers, the stylish 21-year-old right-hander in his eighth Test, carefully moved from his overnight 122 to 178 before edging Reon King to the wicketkeeper as South Africa advanced to 417 for 4 at tea. Herschelle Gibbs followed, caught at slip for eight.

After sharing an opening stand of 191 with his captain Graeme Smith, 104, on the previous day that set the platform for South Africa's commanding position, he took 23 balls over his first run of the day against accurate fast bowling by Daren Powell and Fidel Edwards, leaving Dippenaar to keep the score moving. Only a succession of diving saves at extra-cover by Dwayne Bravo denied both batsmen certain boundaries off the medium-pace of Reon King.

Once De Villiers and Dippenaar got through the first hour, carefully adding 34 off 13 overs, they increased the tempo as Powell and Edwards were rested. Bravo's five overs of medium-pace cost 21, off-spinner Chris Gayle was taken for 22 from his two overs and Dippenaar stepped out to hoist left-arm spinner Ryan Hinds for a straight six.

In contrast to last season's Test against England ,when a fast, bouncy pitch produced first innings totals of 226 and 224 and a second innings West Indies collapse to 94, conditions have reverted to those of an earlier, batsman friendly era. Only Brian Lara took advantage for the West Indies with his second masterpiece in successive Tests, 176 filled with breathtaking strokes in all directions.

But the loss of three wickets for 12 at the top of the order and the last five for 10 once Lara was dismissed by Andre Nel late with the second new ball late on the first day committed them to an inevitable struggle.

Eleven of the 13 Tests on the ground between 1948 and 1974 were high-scoring draws that included Pakistani Hanif Mohammed's 337 in 1958 that lasted 999 minutes, Test cricket's longest innings, Lawrence Rowe's 304 against England in 1974 and six other double hundreds.

To end the sequence, there was a deliberate policy to inject more life into the square in the 1970s and 1980s, an era that coincided with the emergence of the famously menacing West Indies fast bowlers.

It has reverted to its original state for this match and the use of the heaviest roller available between innings drew whatever little life existed.

It has proved hard work for an inexperienced West Indies attack in which no bowler has more than 40 wickets to his name. They toiled stoically but have been unable to make an impression on their focussed opponents who lead 1-0 in the series after their Second Test victory in Port-of-Spain.

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