West Indies collapse after big stand
West Indies 275 for 9 (Brathwaite 106, Samuels 101, Morkel 4-69) trail South Africa 417 for 8 dec by 142 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Centuries from Kraigg Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels steered West Indies past the follow-on mark before a familiar collapse revived the possibility, albeit slight, of a South Africa win. Brathwaite and Samuels added 176 for the third wicket before West Indies let slip a position of apparent safety by losing seven wickets for 44 runs. They trailed by 142 with one wicket in hand when rain intervened for the umpteenth time to end play with an hour still left.
After some predominantly short bowling from South Africa's quicks that discomfited Brathwaite and Samuels without quite threatening to dismiss them, Vernon Philander broke the partnership with a full ball that moved in sharply and rapped Samuels' front pad, punishing his non-exitent front-foot stride.
Paul Reiffel upheld the lbw shout, and Hawkeye showed the ball to be clipping leg stump after Samuels reviewed. Third ball of the next over, Morne Morkel sent back Brathwaite, who went for a drive away from his body at a ball that wasn't quite full enough for the shot and edged a catch to second slip.
Denesh Ramdin and Shivnarine Chanderpaul saw West Indies through to tea, before Imran Tahir - who had been poor till that point, struggling with his control and conceding 96 in his first 23 overs - dismissed both in the space of three balls with his googly. The first one held its line rather than turning sharply in and pinged Ramdin on the front pad when he pressed forward to drive, and the second rolled back between Chanderpaul's legs and trickled into his stumps after he had defended it off the back foot.
West Indies, already boasting a none-too-dependable lower order, had gone into the Test match with five bowlers, and South Africa sliced through the tail before the rain returned. Morkel ended the day with four wickets and Tahir, erratic for most of the innings, with three.
By then, rain-related delays and stoppages had already eaten away three-and-a-half hours, and West Indies had moved past the magic number of 218. They began the day 71 short of it, and Brathwaite and Samuels scored the required runs at close to four runs an over, growing in fluency after surviving a testing early spell from Morkel.
Samuels' footwork is always a little lackadaisical, while Brathwaite's head doesn't really get over the ball when he drives. Morkel went around the wicket and looked to exploit both these shortcomings with full deliveries angled across the batsmen amid a regular diet of short balls.
Samuels took his eyes off the ball while ducking the bouncers and wore one on the back of his helmet, while the fuller one produced a streaky edge to the third man boundary. Brathwaite dealt with the bumpers fairly well, hopping behind the line to keep the ball down or swaying out of line when it rose over chest height, but his movement forward to the full ball definitely looked iffy, even when he used only his hands to time a drive sweetly between short cover and mid-off. At the other end, Philander probed away on off stump, and gave away only seven runs in four overs before South Africa made a double change.
Imran Tahir's introduction served as a pressure-release valve, and he served up full-tosses in each of his first two overs that Brathwaite whipped away to the leg-side boundary. In between, Samuels danced down the pitch and smacked him for a straight four. Tahir continued to leak runs, and he gave away seven boundaries in his six-over spell, including a six and a four off successive balls that took Samuels to his century. By then, West Indies had sailed past the follow-on mark.
South Africa didn't do their cause any good on the field. Dale Steyn bowled predominantly short to both batsmen, and the tactic nearly paid off when Brathwaite fended uncomfortably at a rearing delivery to pop it into the air off the shoulder of his bat. Faf du Plessis turned around from second slip, ran back, and got under the dropping ball, only for it to pop out of his cupped hands.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo