Kagiso Rabada’s six-wicket haul bowled South Africa to series lead in the first Test in Centurion. Chasing 247 on a spicy track, West Indies were bowled out for 159 despite a belligerent 79 from Jermaine Blackwood.
The day hardly started looking like this for South Africa, with Kemar Roach running through the batting order to bowl them out for 116, their lowest Test score against the West Indies. But the 246-run lead conceded by the visitors proved decisive in the end.
The fast-moving opening session saw seven wickets fall. Jason Holder delivered the first blow by eliciting a flashy drive from Heinrich Klaasen in the third over of the day and from then on, it was a Roach show. The fast bowler struck with his first ball, bowling a peach that straightened to take the edge and ended Aiden Markram’s fluent innings on 47 off 58. He went on to pick two wickets in two overs as Marco Jansen defended past another jaffa and lost his off-stump. Gerald Coetzee played a few shots during his innings of 20 off 15, adding to South Africa’s lead, but was outwitted by Roach when he came down the wicket and top-edged a bouncer to the keeper. That was Roach’s fourth wicket, his fifth coming in the form of an outside edge from Anrich Nortje.
On the stroke of Lunch, Kraigg Brathwaite was strangled down the leg-side in West Indies’s rocky start to the run-chase. The second session saw West Indies lose five wickets, with Rabada and Jansen doing the damage in unison. The afternoon kicked off on an ominous note for South Africa when Keegan Peterson dived across at third slip and shelled a simple catch, reprieving Tagenarine Chanderpaul on nought. But with the pitch offering consistent help to the seamers, the opportunities were abound. Rabada soon returned the wicket of Raymon Reifer, who batted well in the first innings but drove away from the body on this occasion and offered a catch behind.
Jansen then lit up the session with his first over, picking Chanderpaul and Roston Chase off consecutive balls. Chanderpaul, having been kept quiet by Rabada and Anrich Nortje, mistimed a pull to midwicket whereas Roston Chase misjudged a ball and left it onto his stumps. The wicket of Kyle Mayers – edging a bouncing length ball behind – further dented the West Indies and reduced them to 33/3 but Jermaine Blackwood’s counterattack came in handy at that point in time.
Blackwood, who went on to score a 51-ball half-century, got going with a couple of fours against Jansen, using the width offered to good use. He added 58 runs for the sixth wicket with Joshua de Silva, who also hit three boundaries in a fast-paced partnership. But he fell in the closing minutes before Tea when he chased a wide ball from Rabada and edged behind.
Jason Holder and Blackwood attacked more after the Tea break, adding 26 runs in three overs but on a pitch like that, it was a matter of time. Rabada got Holder edging behind. Anrich Nortje bounced out Alzarri Joseph soon after and then it was Rabada’s turn again, the fast bowler returning and getting Blackwood to fend a short ball to second slip. It ended a fine innings from Blackwood which featured 12 fours and even a six but he lacked support from the other end. Rabada polished off the win by pinning Roach in front in the same over.
Brief Scores: South Africa 342 & 116 (Markram 47; Roach 5-47) beat West Indies 212 & 159 (Blackwood 79; Rabada 6-50) by 87 runs