Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers were once again earning themselves gold stars as they steadied South Africa after the loss of three wickets without a run being scored, taking the hosts to 102 for three at lunch on the first day of the first Test against the West Indies at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday.
Amla and De Villiers came together after an amazing collapse saw South Africa slump from 57 without loss to 57 for three, a previously-toothless West Indian attack suddenly taking wickets in three successive overs.
It was an extraordinary turnaround given how poorly the visitors had bowled in the first hour, producing assorted lengths and lines as openers Alviro Petersen and Dean Elgar brought up their 50 partnership in just the 10th over.
Petersen was the first to go, getting a start but only making 27 before he pushed at a regulation shortish delivery from Kemar Roach and edged it to first slip.
Just seven balls later, Elgar edged a loose drive at a short, wide delivery from Sheldon Cottrell and was caught by Marlon Samuels in the gully for 28.
It was not smart batting by the South African openers, letting an ill-disciplined West Indies side back into the game and worse was to follow another seven balls later when Faf du Plessis fell for a duck.
Du Plessis just couldn’t resist sparring at a fine delivery from Roach that just shaped away a bit and bounced more than expected, the edge safely taken by wicketkeeper and captain Denesh Ramdin.
South Africa were shaky at 57 for three after being sent in to bat, but Amla and De Villiers are both well-versed in saving the Proteas.
Amla swiped three fours through the off-side off Jerome Taylor on his way to 25 not out, while De Villiers played himself in, playing straight and reaching 16 not out at the interval.
Their partnership is currently worth 45 and, with debutant Stiaan van Zyl and young Quinton de Kock next to bat, South Africa’s hopes of a good total probably rest on their two best batsmen putting together a sizeable partnership.
Roach was the pick of the West Indian bowlers, featuring twice on the scorecard as he claimed two for 16 in six tidy overs.