The Proteas were 68-1 at lunch after being put into bat on day one of the Test at St George’s Park on Friday.
Apart from the one rash stroke that cost Alviro Petersen his wicket, the South African batsmen have performed with composure and control. They dominated during the first hour of play, punishing some erratic West Indies bowling and scoring at a rapid rate. When Petersen departed and the visitors began to hit the right areas of the pitch more consistently, Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis did well to absorb the pressure and ensure that South Africa suffered no further losses.
Petersen should be disappointed that he didn’t make it to lunch with his wicket intact. West Indies won the toss on an overcast morning at St George’s Park, and elected to bowl. They came into this fixture with five specialist bowlers (four seamers and one spinner), and were expected to make an impact from the outset. And yet, it took an exceptionally irresponsible shot by Petersen for the West Indies to make the breakthrough.
Jerome Taylor and 32-year-old debutant Kenroy Peters struggled in the first 10 overs of the session, and the South African openers made them pay. Shannon Gabriel also battled with his length initially, and the ball that led to Petersen’s dismissal was particularly short and wide. Petersen threw his bat at the delivery, and only succeeded in knocking it up into the air on the offside.
From that point, Gabriel and Jason Holder proceeded to find their rhythm. The length bowled by the West Indies bowlers during the second hour of play was excellent, and the South Africans responded by shutting up shop.
The runs dried up. Petersen and Elgar put on 47 before the former’s dismissal. Thanks to the more disciplined effort by the visitors in that second hour, Elgar and Du Plessis only managed to add 21 runs before lunch.
However, after losing the toss, the Proteas are in a better position than the West Indies. The hosts bat deep, with debutant Temba Bavuma listed to come in at No 7. And as Amla suggested at the toss, the wicket will deteriorate as the game wears on and the team that bats last on this surface may struggle.
SA 1st innings – 68-1 (Dean Elgar 35, Alviro Petersen 17, Shannon Gabriel 1-10)
South Africa – Alviro Petersen, Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla (capt), AB de Villiers, Stiaan van Zyl, Temba Bavuma, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir
West Indies – Devon Smith, Kraigg Brathwaite, Leon Johnson, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Denesh Ramdin (capt &wk), Jason Holder, Jerome Taylor, Sulieman Benn, Shannon Gabriel, Kenroy Peters.