GROS ISLET, St Lucia, Jun 18, CMC – Erratic speedster Shannon Gabriel spearheaded an admirable effort by West Indies’ seam attack but captain Dean Elgar and in-form left-hander Quinton de Kock carved out half-centuries, to leave honours even on the opening day of the decisive second Test on Friday.
The 33-year-old grabbed the first of his two wickets in the morning’s second over to set in train the home side’s domination of the first session, before South Africa fought back from the peril of 44 for three at lunch to finish the day on 218 for five.
Elgar, who failed to score in his only innings of last week’s first Test, top-scored with an attritional 77, anchoring critical half-century stands with de Kock who was unbeaten on 59 and Kyle Verreynne who made 27.
Gabriel ended with two for 47 but became slightly more wayward as the day progressed, especially immediately after lunch when he conceded 21 runs from two overs and had to be replaced.
But he, along with seamers Kemar Roach, Jason Holder and Jayden Seales, bowled without much luck, going past the edge on numerous occasions on another responsive track at the Daren Sammy National Stadium.
Opting against repeating the mistake of the first Test when they won the toss and batted, West Indies tasted success off the ninth delivery of the morning after choosing to bowl when Aiden Markram (1) slashed a short, wide ball from Gabriel to point where Roston Chase hauled in a catch above his head with a single run on the board.
Keegan Petersen appeared composed in his 25-ball stay but had made seven when he reached for a drive at the 19-year-old Seales – half-hour after a resumption from a 12-minute break for rain which came after 20 minutes play – and edged to Holder moving to his left at second slip.
And South Africa had added only 11 runs when Roach was rewarded for his patience four overs after the first drinks break, forcing Rassie van der Dussen (4) into an error in judgement, the right-hander shouldering arms to one that jagged back to hit off-stump at 37 for three.
Elgar led his side’s recovery, first in an 87-run fourth wicket stand with Verreynne, which took the visitors safely to lunch and then kept West Indies without success for nearly two hours in the second session.
The left-handed Elgar survived a testing period early on to face 237 deliveries and strike eight fours while Verreynne, in his second Test after making his debut last week, played with caution in an 89-ball knock which included two fours.
The Proteas appeared to be heading to tea without losing a wicket in the second session when Verreynne pulled at an innocuous delivery from Gabriel at the start of the final over before the interval and brushed a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva.
Elgar, unbeaten on 55 at tea after reaching his 17th Test half-century with a streaky boundary to third man off Gabriel in the third over before the break, then found an ally in de Kock to put on a further 79 for the fifth wicket and thrust more frustration upon West Indies.
De Kock, unbeaten on one at the break with the Proteas on 125 for four, was positive from the outset and punched five fours off 103 deliveries, to follow on from his unbeaten 141 in the first Test.
West Indies were running out of ideas in the final session when medium pacer Kyle Mayers got the breakthrough about half-hour before the close when he bowled Elgar through the gate, after beating the outside edge with the previous delivery.
De Kock edged the final ball of the over through the cordon for four to raise his 22nd Test half-century and combined with Wiaan Mulder (2 not out), to see out the remainder of the day.
SOUTH AFRICA 1st Innings
*D Elgar b Mayers 77
A Markram c Chase b Gabriel 0
K Petersen c Holder b Seales 7
R van der Dussen b Roach 4
K Verreynne c wkp Da Silva b Gabriel 27
+Q de Kock not out 59
W Mulder not out 2
Extras (b9, lb18, w12, nb3) 42
TOTAL (5 wkts, 82 overs) 218
To bat: K Maharaj, K Rabada, A Nortje, L Ngidi
Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Markram), 2-26 (Petersen), 3-37 (van der Dussen), 4-124 (Verreynne), 5-203 (Elgar)
Bowling: Roach 16-6-33-1 (w1), Gabriel 12-3-47-2 (w2, nb2), Seales 13-4-28-1, Holder 14-5-25-0, Chase 11-3-20-0, Mayers 11-3-24-1 (w1, nb1), Brathwaite 5-0-14-0
WEST INDIES – Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Kieran Powel, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Kyle Mayers, Jermaine Blackwood, Jason Holder, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales.
Toss: West Indies.
Umpires: G Brathwaite, J Wilson; TV – L Reifer Jr.