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Ken Borland

Proteas attack running through Windies like a freight train, but then derailed by Holder

Posted on March 09, 2023 by Ken

Jason Holder attacked the Proteas spinners extremely well in his rearguard innings.

The new-look Proteas bowling attack was running through the West Indies batting line-up like a freight train on the second day of the second Test at the Wanderers, but then they were derailed by the tall, athletic figure of one Jason Holder.

With South Africa’s batting collapse from the first afternoon carrying over into Thursday morning as their last three wickets were snapped up in just three overs, their total of 320 seemed a long way out of the tourists’ reach as the West Indies struggled to 116 for six when Holder came to the crease.

He had wicketkeeper Josh da Silva for company initially, and they survived for 40 minutes up to tea and then took their partnership to 41 afterwards, before Da Silva was deceived and bowled for 26 by a quicker delivery from off-spinner Simon Harmer.

Alzarri Joseph (4) fell soon afterwards to South Africa’s other spinner, Keshav Maharaj, and at 162 for eight, with the West Indies’ deficit a sizeable 158, Holder made his move.

Together with Kemar Roach, who had a six and a four in his 13, 31 was added in 25 minutes for the ninth wicket, but when fast bowler Gerald Coetzee had Roach caught in the slips in his first over back, the Proteas were no doubt contemplating an hour or so of batting to build on a lead that was still 127 at that stage.

But the heroic Holder found an ideal sidekick in last man Gudakesh Motie, who may have been batting number 11 but looked organised from the outset and has a first-class century against Barbados to his name.

Their brilliant last-wicket stand of 58 defied and frustrated the Proteas as Holder went on the attack against the spinners, hitting three more sixes and ensuring the West Indies conceded a much more manageable deficit of just 69.

The agony was finally ended by Harmer, whose quicker ball led to the dismissal of Motie for 17, with three well-struck fours, as he tried to swing the off-spinner leg-side but could only sky a catch into the covers.

Holder was left on 81 not out, his first half-century against South Africa and his 12th fifty in his 62nd Test. It was a great effort by the former captain, who said afterwards that individual milestones were not his focus, but rather serving the team.

“I love playing for this group and I try and play every situation the best I can for the team,” Holder said. “My job was to form partnerships, try and get in and then go big. It was a good innings I guess with wickets falling around me.

“Being able to shepherd the tail was special. Josh was pretty poised, we made a good start up to tea and we just had a simple plan to keep going.

“When Motie came in, the deficit was still more than a hundred and I just needed him to get in. I took most of the strike until he got accustomed and then we just tried to take every run we could. He did an outstanding job,” Holder said.

South Africa were playing two frontline spinners at the Wanderers for the first time since 1965, but Maharaj and Harmer did not have a major impact, although a second-day pitch was probably always going to be when they had the least assistance.

Both shipping runs at 3.6 per over as the West Indies tried to attack them while the going was good, Harmer took two for 63 and Maharaj one for 77.

The most effective bowlers were Kagiso Rabada, who lived up to his massive reputation, even though Holder thought he had a niggle, taking two for 19 in 12 overs, with five maidens; and young Coetzee, who is looming as a considerable talent.

The 22-year-old, playing in his second Test, took a career-best three for 41 in 14 overs.

“Coming into a world-class bowling attack, it’s been very easy for me. I’ve been able to fit right in because I have the freedom to just do my thing,” Coetzee said.

“The pitch for my first Test at Centurion was more bowler-friendly; this one, if you bowled well you would get reward, but if you don’t bowl well then you will go for runs.

“Jason batted very well and it’s tough to deal with any fifty partnership for the last wicket. But a 70-run lead is better than a 70-run deficit,” Coetzee said.

South Africa stretched that lead to 73 by stumps as openers Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram survived three overs and scored four without loss. A Proteas team that the West Indies have described as being top-heavy will look to plough on through the third day and whatever surprises the pitch has in store for them.

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