West Indies stick to their guns to shade first day

Colin Croft

March 18, 2001

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It was one of those days of Test cricket when everything worked well, yet worked badly too, depending on which side you happen to be. At least, the near capacity crowd enjoyed the excitement, especially late in the evening, as the West Indies fought back on Day 1 of this "Golden" Test match to eventually win the day.

Perhaps the correct description would be that even though the West Indies stuck to their guns and kept trying hard in the afternoon, some of the South African wickets were gifts.

South Africa, having been 161-2 in mid-afternoon, and perhaps with thoughts of at least 350, disintegrated badly with some suicidal stroke-play, stroke-play that does not become a team that has such a reputation for professionalism.

They lost their last six wickets for 65 runs to be 286 all out. Even Carl Hooper, the West Indies captain, as optimistic as he could have been, could not have expected this.

South Africa owe much to their experienced and unruffled number four, Daryll Cullinan, who batted just over three-and-a-half hours for his wonderfully constructed, flawless innings 103.

Seldom could he have batted better as wickets fell around him, hitting 14 glorious fours before he became the eighth batsman dismissed, as, like others, he succumbed to the flight and variety of leg-spinner Dininath Ramnarine.

Cullinan and Jacques Kallis, who again showed what a classy cricketer he is, put on 99 runs for the third wicket before the bottom fell out of South Africa's batting. Only the openers, Gary Kirsten, with 23 and Herschelle Gibbs, with 34, rendered any real resistance.

As it was, it took a near thing, correctly called by the television umpire, to get Kallis out with Wavell Hinds, the medium pacer-cum-opening batsman, getting his first Test wicket. As was the case in Guyana, Kallis thought, incorrectly this time, that he may have had the wrong end of the deal. When he sees the replay this dismissal, he will know that he is now batting 50 percent since was not out LBW in Guyana.

After an initially scrappy display with the ball and in the field, the West Indies bowlers fought back well late in the afternoon. They reaped great rewards for hanging in to the end.

Dininath Ramnarine, the leg-spinner, playing in his first Test at home, and apparently loving it, was the most successful with 3-57. Nixon McLean, also with three wickets, was much improved while Hinds surprised many, getting two important wickets. Courtney Walsh worked hard for his two wickets. He now is just two short of that landmark of 500 Test wickets.

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