Denesh Ramdin scored 53 to help the West Indies to 276-6 at the close of day one, reports Jon Cardinelli at Newlands.
The game is evenly poised after an absolute arm-wrestle on day one. After winning the toss and opting to bat, the West Indies have made good use of the conditions. They have also done relatively well to survive several particularly fierce spells of South African bowling. Indeed, the resolve witnessed at Newlands has been a far cry from what was on display in the preceding games at Centurion and St George’s Park.
The Proteas toiled hard in the first two sessions, and received some reward in the form of four big wickets. They were well on top when they claimed the most important scalp of the lot, that of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, with the first ball after tea.
Given the West Indies’ tendency to collapse, as shown at Centurion and St George’s Park, many would have expected a similar implosion on day one at Newlands. But captain Denesh Ramdin and Jermaine Blackwood proceeded to dig in, amassing 94 runs for the sixth wicket and ultimately ensuring that the tourists finished the day in a good position.
The Proteas did enjoy some bright moments. There was a period before lunch when South Africa restricted the West Indies’ scoring, and then made a crucial breakthrough via debutant Simon Harmer. They enjoyed similar success in the second session, building the pressure and then striking through part-time bowler Stiaan van Zyl, who dismissed the free-scoring Marlon Samuels.
Morné Morkel bowled with pace and aggression, but was largely outshone by the debutant. Harmer bowled opener Devon Smith for 47 right before lunch. Later, he ended Leon Johnson’s innings with a quicker delivery that trapped the No 3 batsman in front.
Immediately after tea, Chanderpaul attempted to use his feet and hit Harmer over the top. Harmer saw the unorthodox left-hander coming, pushed the delivery through a little quicker and down the leg side. Thanks to some sharp work by wicketkeeper AB de Villiers, Chanderpaul was stumped and Harmer collected his third wicket.
Ramdin and Blackwood frustrated the hosts thereafter, but the pair could not see the West Indies through to the close of play. As had been the case in the preceding sessions, the visitors were guilty of losing a wicket right before the break in play.
Ramdin was out in the 86th over when he hit the ball straight back to Steyn. Blackwood and Jason Holder then managed to survive the remaining four overs.
A first innings total of 350 is well within the West Indies’ reach. If they can remain at the crease for the duration of the first session on day two, they should realise this objective.
That said, the South Africans have good reason to feel encouraged. With Ramdin back in the hut, Blackwood is the only recognised batsman left. They should aim to wrap up the West Indies innings early on day two, and then make use of the excellent batting conditions at Newlands.
DAY ONE SCORECARD
West Indies 1st innings – 276-6 (Leon Johnson 54, Denesh Ramdin 53, Simon Harmer 3-67, Dale Steyn 2-59)