West Indies on top after first session in St. Lucia
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ST LUCIA – One lesson Kraigg Brathwaite learned from the first Test, was that when you win the toss you bowl. Last week Brathwaite batted and his team lost. On Friday, he chose to bowl and the West Indies immediately took control of the second Test.
South Africa’s batsmen were left poking, prodding and hoping as the West Indies fast bowlers got the ball seaming and swinging around on the opening morning at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St. Lucia. At lunch the Proteas were in trouble on 44/3 with Dean Elgar on 22 and Kyle Verreynne on one. Both will be hoping that batting gets slightly easier in the afternoon.
Brathwaite had followed history in batting first last week, with the three victories in the previous Test at the ground, all coming for the team batting first. In doing so he didn’t assess the conditions in front of him properly, nor the recent problems South Africa has endured with the bat.
Having gained the advantage of winning the toss on Friday, Brathwaite wasn’t going to make the same mistake. Although the match is taking place on a different pitch, which is less grassy according to local commentators, there was still sufficient tufts of grass to keep the seam bowlers enthused. In addition, cloudy overhead conditions, which had caused rain to delay the start, and then briefly interrupted play 10 minutes after the start, also assisted swing. The legendary West Indies fast bowler, Sir Curtly Ambrose said on television that the surface, while slow, would assist the seamers early on and if there is sufficient sun in the next few days it would quicken up.
Again the two sides observed the Black Lives Matter movement, the West Indies all kneeling, while some of the South Africans chose to stand with their fists raised.
Before the rain interruption South Africa lost Aiden Markram, who played a very loose stroke to a wide rising delivery from Shannon Gabriel - restored to the starting team after missing the first Test with a hamstring injury - hitting the ball to a leaping Roston Chase at point.
Keegan Petersen, in his second Test, found the going difficult against the seaming and swinging ball, and with his mind scrambled reached out at a delivery from Jayden Seales, that he probably should have left, edging the ball to Jason Holder, who took a good catch falling to his left at second slip. Petersen made just seven.
Elgar needed all his fighting qualities to survive, and smiled often as the ball went flying past the outside edge of his bat. It took him 34 balls to play his most confident shot, a drive for three through the covers off Kemar Roach. Six balls later, he again took advantage of a delivery that was over-pitched, this time from Seales, to stroke a boundary to long off.
Rassie van der Dussen scored just four and never looked settled, but having noticed Roach angling most deliveries into him, would have been disappointed with his own error of judgement in leaving one such delivery, which knocked back the top of his off-stump.
Gabriel was the only change to the West Indies’ starting line-up replacing spinner Rakheem Cornwall. South Africa played the same team that won a week ago, with Temba Bavuma missing out, this time with a dislocated left middle finger, which he picked up at training on Wednesday. He missed last week’s match with a hip strain.
The local authorities in St. Lucia in conjunction with the West Indies Cricket board will allow a maximum of 400 spectators into the ground for each day of the Test. Those fan will have to be fully vaccinated and will need to wear a mask while inside the ground.
West Indies: Kraigg Brathwaite (capt), Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Kyle Mayers, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales
South Africa: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar (capt), Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Quinton de Kock, Wiaan Mulder, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje