Makhaya Ntini, fast and direct, fired out three wickets in 22 balls at the end of the fourth day of the first Test here at the Wanderers as South Africa positioned themselves for a victory over the West Indies that has seemed probable since the first day.
Although the West Indies captain, Brian Lara, converted his unbeaten 178, which so dominated the third day, into his sixth Test double-century yesterday, Ntini's burst left the tourists with a daunting challenge to stave off defeat over the minimum of 90 overs available on the final day today.
South Africa gained a lead of 151 when the West Indies were dismissed for 410 an hour and 10 minutes into the day. They then added 226 to the lead in their second innings before the captain, Graeme Smith, declared. It left a target of 378 but, more significantly, gave the fast bowlers 10 overs before the close. Ntini, whose two wickets at the end of the first innings in the morning gave him figures of 5 for 94, virtually set the seal on the match with his fiery spell.
The West Indies ended on 31 for 3 and, even with Lara unbeaten after five scoreless deliveries, it is a tall order.
Ntini ripped out the left-handed opener Wavell Hinds' off-stump with the first ball of his second over, bowled the nightwatchman, Vasbert Drakes, between bat and pad with the last ball of his third over and gained an lbw verdict against the opener Daren Ganga with the fourth ball of his fourth over.
It meant Lara had to come in for the last two overs but he and his vice-captain, Ramnaresh Sarwan, survived to carry the West Indies' slim hopes into the last day.
Their worries are compounded by the hamstring injury that has reduced their usual opener Chris Gayle to a painful hobble since the first day and obliged him to go in at No 9 in the first innings and bat with a runner.
SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings 561 (J H Kallis 158, G C Smith 132, M van Jaarsveld 73, H H Gibbs 60).
WEST INDIES - First Innings (Overnight 363 for 6; D Ganga 60)
B C Lara c Van Jaarsveld b Nel 202
M Dillon b Ntini 13
C H Gayle c Kallis b Ntini 8
F H Edwards c McKenzie b Nel 0
C D Collymore not out 1
Extras (b12 lb15 w4 nb5) 36
Total (133.5 overs) 410
Fall: 7-380, 8-405, 9-409.
Bowling: Pollock 30-7-65-1; Ntini 32-9-94-5; Nel 32.5-11-78-3; Kallis 22-6-53-1; Peterson 13-2-76-0; Smith 4-0-17-0.
SOUTH AFRICA - Second Innings
G C Smith c Sub b Drakes 44
H H Gibbs retd hurt 6
J A Rudolph c Sarwan b Hinds 44
J H Kallis lbw b Hinds 44
M V Boucher st Jacobs b Sarwan 18
M van Jaarsveld run out 15
S M Pollock b Collymore 10
N D McKenzie not out 9
R J Peterson not out 18
Extras (b2 lb3 w6 nb7) 18
Total (for 6 dec, 63 overs) 226
Fall: 1-72, 2-145, 3-158, 4-180, 5-188, 6-206.
Did Not Bat: A Nel, M Ntini.
Bowling: Edwards 13-0-60-0; Dillon 10-0-26-0; Drakes 10-2-21-1; Collymore 9-3-19-1; Sarwan 10-0-40-1; Hinds 11-0-55-2.
WEST INDIES - Second Innings
W W Hinds b Ntini 0
D Ganga lbw b Ntini 10
V C Drakes b Ntini 6
R R Sarwan not out 6
B C Lara not out 0
Extras (b5 lb1 nb3) 9
Total (for 3, 10 overs) 31
Fall: 1-5, 2-18, 3-25.
To Bat: C H Gayle, S Chanderpaul, R D Jacobs, M Dillon, C D Collymore, F H Edwards.
Bowling: Pollock 3-1-6-0; Ntini 5-2-12-3; Nel 2-0-7-0.
Umpires: D B Hair (Aus) and S J A Taufel (Aus).Reuse content