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The Bulletin by Jenny Thompson
April 9, 2005
Graeme Smith cracked an unbeaten 90 to put South Africa in a strong position at the end of the second day in Trinidad. They ended the day on 182 for 3 in reply to West Indies' 347, an innings dominated by a brilliant 196 from Brian Lara.
On balance, the day was South Africa's, even though West Indies removed AB de Villiers, Dwayne Bravo and Jacques Kallis, halting South Africa's first-innings progress only momentarily, after an opening stand of 70 between Smith and de Villiers had started to make significant inroads into the first-innings deficit.
It took a special delivery from Andre Nel to remove Lara just before lunch, cutting away from the left-hander and clipping the top of his off stump. Such was Lara's imperious form that the worry for his team this morning had been not would he fall short of his 200, but would he run out of partners before he got there. Resuming on 281 for 6, West Indies' start was assured enough, Lara cruising past 20,000 first-class runs with a casually brilliant cover-driven four, and Courtney Browne proving a worthy comrade with some decent shots of his own.
Lara strode on effortlessly and it seemed as though nothing could halt his charge: not a difficult pitch, not even the hostile bowling of Nel and Makhaya Ntini. Then Ntini struck at the other end, removing Browne after a vital seventh-wicket partnership of 74 took West Indies towards their target of 350 runs.
But it was Ntini's next victim, his sixth, which changed the complexion of the innings and turned Lara's attack-minded mode into one of defence. During Daren Powell's cameo, Lara was content to share the strike, and then some: not afraid to take on the short ball, Powell posted 15 runs in a breezy stand of 19. But once Ntini struck, Lara took on shepherding duties, shielding the strike from Pedro Collins and then Reon King.
It didn't prevent him from the occasional flourish, the highlight when he charged Ntini to smear an outrageous four through extra cover which took him within ten runs of the double-century. A confident Lara strode on, turning down runs as he looked to choose the best shot to take him to 200. He never got the chance: Nel came around the wicket and took him - and an expectant Trinidadian crowd - completely by surprise with a perfect awayswinger which gently clinked his off-bail and brought a fabulous innings to a premature close.
But South Africa's batsmen were careful in their reply, ensuring they didn't lose any wickets before lunch on a worsening pitch, highlighted by Powell's earlier undoing: Ntini's delivery didn't rise as expected and he was left stranded on the back foot. South Africa emerged unscathed from a tricky 15-minute session before lunch and set off at a clattering pace afterwards, Smith and de Villiers posting their fifty partnership in just 48 balls, including eight fours, as Powell and Collins struggled.
But West Indies' bowlers tightened their line and their length later on, through King, Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle and they were temporarily buoyed by a couple of quick wickets. King removed de Villiers and Bravo was rewarded for an impressive spell with the wicket of Jacques Rudolph, who looked hopelessly out-of-form for the second Test running.
But then the hatches were battened down by the master of attrition, Kallis, who survived a battery of hairy moments, including two when he was on 33. King found some extra bounce and Kallis' glove steered the ball through the vacant second slip area, then Chris Gayle induced his edge to an occupied slip position - first - but Ramnaresh Sarwan, unaccustomed to fielding there, let the chance clean through his hands. Crucially, just two runs later and in the day's penultimate over, Kallis fell, trapped plumb by Bravo.
Courtney Browne c Rudolph b Ntini 26 (299 for 7)
Chipped inside edge to short leg for easy catch
Daren Powell b Ntini 15 (318 for 8)
Stayed on backfoot, but ball kept low and shot through to remove off stump
Pedro Collins lbw b Nel 2 (325 for 9)
Played back, trapped plumb in front
Brian Lara b Nel 196 (347)
Played inside one which moved away and clipped off stump
AB de Villiers c Chanderpaul b King 33 (70 for 1)
Drove uppishly to cover
Jacques Rudolph c Browne b Bravo 8 (86 for 2)
Flashed faintest of outside edges
Jacques Kallis lbw b Bravo 39 (181 for 3)
Defeated by inswinger and trapped plumb
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?