The West Indies were facing an uphill struggle trying to chase down the follow-on mark as they stumbled to tea on 184 for six on the third day of the first Sunfoil Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday.
With South Africa having declared their first innings on 552 for five, the West Indies need 353 to avoid the follow-on, but it was a frustrating day for them as all six dismissed batsmen made it into double-figures, with two of them out in controversial fashion
Vernon Philander’s tight off-stump line with movement away was exacting a heavy toll on the West Indies and he had four for 26 including the big wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul for 21.
The awkward, slow-scoring left-hander pushed forward to an excellent delivery that pitched on off-stump and moved away, edging a low catch to second slip, where Alviro Petersen made a good diving take.
The ball was really talking for Philander and four overs later he drew an edge from Jermaine Blackwood (12) that, despite the batsman’s soft hands, just about made it to Petersen diving forward at second slip. It was a superb take, but television replays suggested the batsman should have been given the benefit of the doubt.
Morne Morkel, meanwhile, had given Marlon Samuels a rough, bareback ride in the previous spell from the Hennops River End, but the batsman mounted a spirited defence, surviving for two hours as he scored 33.
Morkel was targeting the body from around the wicket and eventually a delivery jagged back and dribbled off the inside edge into the stumps, ending a 45-run stand with Chanderpaul.
Leon Johnson also made a start, reaching 31 before he was dismissed in soft fashion, driving Kyle Abbott to cover in the third over after lunch.
An opening stand of 72 had nicely teed up the West Indies’ reply before both openers were dismissed and they reached lunch on 110 for two.
Kraigg Braithwaite (34) and Devon Smith (35) were the batsmen who defied the much-vaunted South African pace attack for 21.4 overs in cloudy conditions and it took an extraordinary decision by TV umpire Paul Reiffel for the breakthrough to come.
Philander had just returned for his second spell when Smith tried to pull a shortish delivery and wicketkeeper AB de Villiers, standing in for Quinton de Kock who rolled an ankle in the warm-up, tumbled to his left to make the take. Faf du Plessis was also off the field due to abdominal cramps.
On-field umpire Billy Bowden turned down the caught-behind appeal that came mostly from Philander and South Africa decided to refer the decision.
Reiffel decided that a flimsy scratch on Snicko could be pinned down to when the ball passed the bat and overturned Bowden’s decision, which left most people watching the replays utterly bemused and the West Indians less than happy.
Braithwaite was then nailed by Philander in his next over, the accurate paceman getting a delivery to nip away, a firm push sending the ball low and to the right of Hashim Amla at first slip, the captain claiming a good catch.