Cape Town – Another 100 runs or more: that
is what West Indies may require in their first innings if they are to feel
they’re right at the races in the third and final Test.
SCORECARD: SA v West Indies, Day 1
It makes the first session of day two
against South Africa at Newlands of strong importance on Saturday as the
Caribbean tourists resume on their overnight tally of 276 for six.
Analysts battled to say with conviction who
they felt bossed proceedings on well-attended “Tweede Nuwe Jaar” in the Mother
City; if anything, sentiment seemed to sway between minor advantage Windies and
There was, interestingly, a bit less
support for “nose in front Proteas” ... though that’s the way I am just inclined
to place my cross in the impromptu ballot.
The average first-knock total at the famous
ground is 332, but I am not even sure average is that pertinent here; the pitch
seems particularly benign on this occasion and ought to positively ooze runs on
the second and third days’ play.
It is then that you would imagine Hashim
Amla’s home side, fuelled by the usual arsenal of proven strokeplayers and
retention of their in-vogue “seven specialist batsmen” formula, will be
intending to knuckle down with zeal in the middle ahead of any later signs of
I will have egg plastered all over my face
if the world’s top-ranked outfit suddenly slump to 90 for five or the like, of
course, but may also not be entirely alone in suspecting instead that 400-plus
is going to be well within reach of the SA cause.
With respect to the Taylor-Gabriel-Holder
pace alliance for West Indies, they do not yet command even a chunk of the aura
of Holding, Roberts and Garner, nor Ambrose, Walsh and Marshall -- and on this
budding back-breaker of a track, that could spell trouble for their time in the
field under further, expected sunny skies.
So it could be of priceless value to the
underdogs, already 1-0 down in the series and needing victory for an unlikely
share of the spoils, if they can press on for a further session and a half or
thereabouts to delay the Proteas’ own first knock.
The really workmanlike score for them to
boast is arguably 375 or north of that: first West Indian mini-target on the
second morning, however, will be just to bust the 300 barrier for the first
time in the series.
And even that is no fait accompli if you
consider not only that South Africa will have in their grasp straight away a
new ball only 10 overs old, but also knowledge that tail-end resistance by the
visitors has been negligible in the summer hostilities to this point.
A salvo of early “skittles” could undo a
great deal of the hitherto pretty dogged work done to construct a meaningful
The main man tasked with preventing that
scenario is Jermaine Blackwood, the Jamaican right-hander in only his fifth
Test match, who is 45 not out and only two deliveries shy of becoming the most
resistant of the West Indies batsmen thus far in terms of balls faced in the
He is also the last available specialist
willow-wielder and if he goes quickly - though he will be wishing to better
his current Test best score of 66 - then the cat could well feast among the
All three Proteas quickies will have reason
to be fired-up in Saturday’s first session: Dale Steyn because he is inching ever
more invitingly toward the magical 400-scalp mark in Tests (now 391) and Vernon
Philander and Morne Morkel because they may be miffed not to yet feature in the
wickets column through some rotten luck at times on Friday.
A promising debut so far for the animated
Warriors off-spinner Simon Harmer, who is two strikes away from a dream,
immediate five-for, only adds to the potential for a reasonably sharp mop-up of
the remaining four wickets.
With a handful of West Indies players
getting forties or fifties on day one but then being either bundled out or naively
self-destructing (the latter was a repetitive theme), it is all too tempting to
suspect that they have already begun to make life ominously difficult for
I may be wrong.
Psst, hands up for first Proteas
century-maker in this clash, anyone?
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing