An opening stand of 72 nicely teed up the West Indies’ reply before both openers were dismissed and they reached lunch on 110 for two on the third day of the first Sunfoil Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday.
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.
Vernon 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.
The West Indies were able to go into lunch without further loss though as Leon Johnson hit three fours on his way to 27 not out and Marlon Samuels had scored a watchful six not out.
With South Africa having declared their first innings on 552 for five, the West Indies still need 243 runs to avoid the follow-on.