A complete change in the weather temporarily upset South Africa's plans on the fourth day of the third Test here yesterday, but not sufficiently to eliminate the distinct possibility of a third successive victory in the series over the dispirited West Indies.
Play was delayed by rain for two hours and 55 minutes in mid-afternoon but, with the use of the floodlights and the regulation allowing extended play, 66 of the 90 allocated overs were still possible.
After claiming two wickets in the first half-hour, the West Indies' effort rapidly degenerated into demeaning mediocrity as Herschelle Gibbs and Jacques Kallis, who both helped themselves to hundreds, put South Africa back on course for their eventual lead of 440 with a third-wicket partnership of 251.
An immediate declaration looks certain on the final day, which that has been extended to 105 overs to make up for time that has been lost. That should be enough for South Africa to complete the job, but not for the West Indies to achieve a sensational victory, even though they compiled a record second innings of 418 for 7 to beat Australia in Antigua last April.
Gibbs had four sixes and 15 fours in his 142, his 12th Test hundred and his second in successive Tests, before he was caught on the mid-wicket boundary off the leg-spinner Ramnaresh Sarwan. Kallis' unbeaten 130 was his 14th hundred in his 74th Test and his third in the series, carrying his aggregate in five innings to 581.
After three days of hot, uninterrupted sunshine, clouds shrouded Table Mountain from early morning and the West Indies had two quick successes. Graeme Smith, the South African captain, played no stroke at a late inswinger from Fidel Edwards and had his off-stump uprooted. In the next over, Jacques Rudolph followed his first innings 103 with a second ball duck as he touched a catch to the wicketkeeper, Ridley Jacobs, off Vasbert Drakes.
South Africa were 50 for 2, ahead by 155, but the West Indies lacked the penetration and the fervour to press the position. Their ground fielding was ragged, Wavell Hinds and Dave Mohammed collided as they failed to save a boundary, and play was held up while his team-mates - and the crowd - fell about laughing at Mohammed's comical slide to prevent a boundary, repeatedly replayed on the scoreboard screen. In the final session after the rain break, when 147 were added off 26 overs, they dropped four catches as Gibbs and Kallis struck seven sixes and eight fours.
(Fourth day of five; South Africa won the toss)
SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings 532 (M V Boucher 122*, J A Rudolph 101, N D McKenzie 76, J H Kallis 73; A Sanford 4-132).
WEST INDIES - First Innings 427 (C H Gayle 116, B C Lara 115; A Nel 5 for 87)
SOUTH AFRICA - Second Innings
G C Smith b Edwards 24
H H Gibbs c Gayle b Sarwan 142
J A Rudolph c Jacobs b Drakes 0
J H Kallis not out 130
G Kirsten not out 10
Extras (b3 lb7 w8 nb11) 29
Total (for 3, 76 overs) 335
Fall: 1-48 2-50 3-301.
To bat: N D McKenzie, M V Boucher, S M Pollock, P R Adams, M Ntini.
Bowling: Edwards 14-0-86-1; Sanford 8-1-38-0; Gayle 9-3-34-0; Drakes 20-0-68-1; Mohammed 6-0-30-0; Sarwan 19-1-69-1.
Umpires: S Venkataraghavan (Ind) and D J Harper (Aus).Reuse content