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April 12, 2005
Makhaya Ntini recorded his best Test figures of 7 for 37, to complete a sensational 13-wicket match haul and set South Africa for an emphatic eight-wicket victory on the final day in Trinidad. AB de Villiers and Graeme Smith then rubbed salt into the open wounds by rattling along to a 117-run opening stand in the second innings, and though both then fell before tea to massage the margin of defeat, Jacques Kallis and Jacques Rudolph sealed the win 15 minutes into the final session.
It was, from start to finish, an utterly depressing day for West Indies. They had resumed with an overnight lead of 119 and a faint hope of saving the match, but squandered their position with a collapse of five wickets for 24 runs in just 59 balls of the new ball, four of them to the unplayable Ntini. Then, with a meagre target of 144 to defend, their hopes were utterly deflated in a ten-minute spell either side of tea, when Reon King twice committed the ultimate - and in West Indies' case, the long-overdue - crime of taking a wicket with a no-ball.
On an increasingly devious track, de Villiers had decided that a swift denouement was in order, and beat Daren Powell out of the attack with three classy overs in his opening over. He continued in similar vein until, in the penultimate over before lunch, King removed his off stump with a beauty. David Shepherd, however, had already signalled the no-ball, and as a grinning de Villiers led the teams off for lunch, King remained out in the middle, scratching the popping crease like a disconsolate rooster.
He measured and re-measured his run-up, but it was all to no avail. In the third over after the resumption, Smith flinched a dolly to short midwicket, but once again King had overstepped, and Brian Lara was already grimacing as he stooped to complete the catch. From that moment on, the fight went out of the West Indian performance, and though they salvaged some pride with two late wickets, the sight of Ramnaresh Sarwan dropping Rudolph at gully with two runs needed for victory was a more apt commentary on the day's events.
In fact, West Indies' solitary bright spot came in the third over of the morning, as Sarwan, 93 not out overnight, brought up his seventh Test century with a firm push for four down the ground. Thereafter, Ntini entered the attack to share the new ball, and the end of the innings was swift and dramatic.
Ntini made the big incision with his third ball of the morning, as Dwayne Bravo flashed hard at a wide one and feathered an edge through to Mark Boucher behind the stumps. He was gone for 33, and Ntini had completed his second haul of ten wickets in a match. One over later he surpassed his previous-best performance, against England at Lord's in 2003, when Courtney Browne was trapped on the move to become a very rare lbw victim (188 for 7) - it was just Ntini's 13th such dismissal in 57 Tests and 217 wickets.
Andre Nel then got in on the act as well, as Powell deflected a thick edge towards second slip, where Jacques Kallis, quick as a flash, reached to his right to pluck a lightning chance. Sarwan could do nothing but look on and hope for the best. Pedro Collins played down the wrong line and lost his off stump to Ntini, and after an emphatic four through point from Sarwan, King was beaten for sheer pace as Ntini completed his share of the rout.
Ntini's match figures of 13 for 132 were the best by a South African in Test history, surpassing a record that had stood for 53 years - Hugh Tayfield's 13 for 165 against Australia at Melbourne in 1952-53. It was a performance made all the more memorable by the absence of Shaun Pollock, who has been South Africa's premier strike bowler since the retirement of Allan Donald, and showed that the succession is in safe hands.
Dwayne Bravo c Boucher b Ntini 33 (180 for 6)
Lapse in concentration, swished at a wide one
Courtney Browne lbw b Ntini 2 (188 for 7)
Caught on the move, hit just inside the line
Daren Powell c Kallis b Nel 1 (189 for 8)
Flying edge, plucked at second slip
Pedro Collins b Ntini 0 (190 for 9)
Played down wrong line, lost off stump
Reon King b Ntini 0 (194 for 10)
Beaten for pace, stumps splattered
Graeme Smith c Gayle b Bravo 41 (117 for 1)
Loose drive to first slip
AB de Villiers b Powell 62 (119 for 2)
Squared up by one that kept fractionally low
A collection of fine cricket writing on great cricket feats, and never mind the omissions
Plays of the Day from the first ODI between South Africa and India in Johannesburg