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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Honours shared as First Test ends in draw

Herschelle Gibbs batted out the final session of the first Test between the West Indies and South Africa at the Bourda on Tuesday to ensure an honourable draw for the tourists as they finished the final day on 142-2 chasing an unlikely target of 306 for victory.

South Africa lost first innings hero Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis on their way, but the flattest pitch seen in the Caribbean for some time had the final say and the two sides will have to start all over again at the Queen's Park Oval in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, beginning on Saturday.

South Africa's target had been set after Carl Hooper had prolonged the West Indies second innings by 12 overs on the final morning, extending their overnight 286-4 to 333-7 and stretching the lead beyond 300.

Hooper became the first casualty of the day with an extraordinary shot that saw him step so far outside his leg stump that he was able to cut a ball from left arm spinner Nicky Boje that pitched six inches outside leg stump itself. Sadly, his ingenuity led only to him picking out Daryll Cullinan at backward point and he departed for 35.

The 20-year-old Ramnaresh Sarwan battled desperately to reach his maiden Test century before Hooper's declaration but, having advanced from 71 to 91, he turned a delivery from Boje behind square on the leg side and set off for what seemed a reasonable single.

Gibbs pounced, swooped and gathered at impossible pace to return the ball to 'keeper Mark Boucher who removed the bails while Sarwan floundered in the dust, diving desperately to regain his ground.

It was a memorable innings, nonetheless, and although he won't tell grandchildren about it as much as he will the first century, it was surely a career-shaping knock spanning 180 balls in just over three-and-a-half hours at the crease.

Ridley Jacobs, meanwhile, had belted 18 from just 15 balls in a muscular cameo until Nixon McLean arrived to replace Sarwan. McLean faced one ball, was trapped LBW by it and then walked off the field with the rest of the players as Hooper called the innings closed.

Kirsten and Gibbs reached 27-0 at lunch and added 66 for the first wicket when South Africa began their second reply, but it should not have been so. Gibbs, on two, edged a fast, bouncing delivery from Merv Dillon to Hooper at second slip and the West Indian captain blotched an otherwise immaculate debut Test as captain by clanging a straighforward, head-high chance.

Gibbs was also indebted for his survival to an outstanding performance by local umpire Ed Nicholls in the final two sessions. Courtney Walsh and Dillon both delivered superb off-cutters that raced between bat and pad, flicking something hard on the way to Jacobs. The appeals were more celebratory than questioning but Nicholls remained unmoved. Television replays, in slow motion, showed the ball to have flicked the thigh pad on both occasions but Nicholls made his call first time, in real time.

Kallis (30) was the last wicket of the match when an pacey inswinger from McLean thudded into his front pad and trapped him lbw for 30. Some umpires might have been put off by the movement, but once again replays seemed to showed that Nicholls had got it dead right.

Gibbs meanwhile, finished on 83 from 215 balls ending a run of 11 Test innings without a half century. It may be important for his tour, and South Africa's top order fortunes for the rest of the series.

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