West Indies on verge of unlikely win

West Indies 543-5dec South Africa 188 & 44-0
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The Independent Online

South Africa face a daunting final day if they are to prevent the West Indies from completing an extraordinary, unexpected victory in the first Test here today.

South Africa face a daunting final day if they are to prevent the West Indies from completing an extraordinary, unexpected victory in the first Test here today.

Utterly outplayed throughout by their depleted, underestimated opponents, South Africa followed on 355 in arrears when bowled out for 188 in their first innings just before lunch with approximately 160 overs remaining in the match.

With their only option to play for a draw, they batted with dogged, defensive determination to consume 63 overs by the time fading light ended the day three overs before scheduled.

By then, they had lost both openers for 85, AB de Villiers bowled off the inside edge by Reon King in the first over after tea for 20 and captain Graeme Smith beaten and bowled by left-armer Pedro Collins' late inswing for 34.

Jacques Rudolph survived several alarms, including a stiff return chance to left-arm spinner Ryan Hinds when six, to remain to the end with Jacques Kallis, South Africa's premier batsman, his partner.

A pitch on which the West Indies amassed 543 for five declared has started to show signs of wear but it is still basically sound.

The West Indies performance has already cooled much of the heated controversy surrounding a row over sponsorship contracts that has led to the omission of superstar and incumbent captain Brian Lara and six other players.

All have since been cleared to be available for selection in the second Test, starting in Port-of-Spain, Lara's home town, on Friday.

If the present position and his own unbeaten 203 in the massive West Indies total have not done so already, a victory would surely guarantee that Shivnarine Chanderpaul is retained as captain over Lara, sparking more heated debate.

The West Indies tightened the grip they have held since the first day when they claimed the last four wickets in the morning for 58 as South Africa were all out for 188.

They had them batting a second time three overs before lunch.

Their three fast bowlers - Collins, Daren Powell and King - reduced South Africa to 130 for six on the third day and did not allow any significant revival on resumption yesterday.

South Africa's wicketkeeper Mark Boucher and left-handed all-rounder Nicky Boje kept going almost an hour into the day before the West Indies made the breakthrough that exposed South Africa's fragile tail.

Boje was untroubled as he moved to 34 but he could not keep out a wicked ball from King that cut back sharply to bowl him off the back pad.

The end of the highest partnership of the innings, 63, also effectively signalled the end to South Africa's resistance. Boucher, who took 21 balls to score his first run on the previous afternoon, was in equally obdurate mood, taking 27 balls and 40 minutes to add to his overnight 32.

Once left with Nos. 10 and 11 as partners, he changed tactics. It led to his downfall to an edged catch to slip off Collins.

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