Close West Indies 178 for 1 (Gayle 112*) trail South Africa 532 (Boucher 122*) by 354 runs
A whirlwind century from Chris Gayle, the ninth-fastest in Tests, led West Indies' fight back against South Africa on the second day of the third Test at Cape Town. After Mark Boucher had guided his side to a dominating 532 with an unbeaten 122*, Gayle blitzed 112 not out from 105 balls as West Indies closed on 178 for 1, but still 354 behind.
It wasn't a day for the bowlers. In all, 402 runs were plundered on a beautiful batting track for the loss only five wickets. The first batsman to shine was Boucher, who scored his fourth Test century to give South Africa the early advantage. However, some of that supremacy was then taken away by Gayle, who's dynamic innings took the polish off what was otherwise a good day for Graeme Smith and his team.
Whatever plans the South African bowlers had of taking early wickets, Gayle blew them out the window with an astonishing assault. Still feeling the effects of his sore hamstring, Gayle simply decided to cut down the running and hit the boundaries - and he did just that in devastating style. He smashed 20 fours and a six in all, laying into anything slightly off line - he was a man on a mission.
He gave a taster of what was to come with a flick for six over square leg in Makhaya Ntini's first over. He then crunched Shaun Pollock off the back-foot through the covers, but he saved most of the treatment for Andre Nel. Gayle bludgeoned two consecutive pulls and the next ball he cut Nel to race to his half-century off only 37 balls. Nel then disappeared over mid-off twice in a row and before anyone had noticed, the West Indies hundred was up - and Gayle had scored 77 of them. It was a case of blink and you missed another booming boundary. It was pure carnage.
Jacques Kallis couldn't keep him quiet either. Gayle cut him to the boundary, and then drove him through the covers on one knee. He had already rocketed into the nineties, and, by his standards, he took a while to get to three figures - about ten minutes. He pushed Kallis into the leg side to record a memorable century off only 79 balls Oh, and he passed 2000 Test runs at the same time.
It was easy to forget that Daren Ganga was at the other end. He was his usual studied self and while he wasn't watching and admiring Gayle's fireworks, he gave his partner good support until he lost his patience and edged Nel onto the stumps (126 for 1). While Gayle then calmed down, Ramnaresh Sarwan took over the wheel, belting eight boundaries in his 39 not out, as West Indies put their poor bowling performance earlier in the day behind them.
After their late fightback yesterday evening, West Indies began the day in a competitive position, but Boucher, along with Kallis, quickly dampened their spirits with an excellent display of attacking, aggressive batting. Boucher added an authoritative and, at times, effortless stand of 146 with Kallis before putting his foot down after the lunch break. Boucher smashed 21 boundaries in all and gave the innings its impetus.
Fidel Edwards started brightly, and he made an early breakthrough with the wicket of Pollock, who edged Edwards behind to Ridley Jacobs for 9 (315 for 7). After that, though, it was a horror show for the bowlers, who completely wasted the new ball.
Boucher was in his element. Initially letting Kallis take the majority of the strike, he rolled up his sleeves and kept up the run rate with ones and twos on both sides of the wicket, as well the odd boundary. He did, however, have two strokes of fortune. He was bowled off a no ball by Edwards on 15, and was dropped on 59 by Carlton Baugh, but Boucher deserved his luck as he continued to tuck in to the frequent loose balls.
Adam Sanford gave the fielders some cheer when he rather fortunately trapped Kallis lbw for a classy 73 (461 for 8). Boucher, meanwhile, continued unfazed and he soon brought up a well-deserved century. The packed crowd at Newlands rose to applaud his first hundred in 47 Tests, his last was against England at Durban in 1999. And he wasn't finished there. He carried on the fun, smacking anything wide or short, including three eye-catching pulls off Edwards.
Ntini got in the act too when he twice walloped Dave Mohammed high down the ground for a four and a six. Mohammed got his revenge, though, when Ntini tickled him behind to Jacobs (513 for 9), and Nel gave Jacobs his fourth catch of the innings when he nicked Sanford behind. South Africa's total represented an impressive effort from their overnight 308 for 6, and it was mainly thanks to Boucher. Even though his sparkling innings was later overshadowed by Gayle's knock, South Africa are still in a strong position.