Third Test

South Africa v West Indies 1998-99

At Durban, December 26, 27, 28, 29. South Africa won by nine wickets. Toss: South Africa. Test debut: D. Ganga.

On an excellent batting pitch, West Indies, with the exception of Lara and Chanderpaul, again surrendered their wickets meekly, and presented South Africa with the series. Once they had been bowled out for 198 on the opening day, West Indies were always playing catch-up cricket. What was most galling for them was their capitulation, not to the front-line attack, but to the support trio of Terbrugge, Kallis and Cronje.

The South African captain admitted that his decision to field had been a gamble. He need not have worried, though; West Indies, despite their only fifty-run opening stand of the series, again failed to apply themselves, with the top five all getting out to loose shots. It was the debutant Daren Ganga who played with the most discipline, surviving nearly two hours for his 28. Jacobs was typically defiant before being last out to Cronje, whose figures of three for 19 were his best in Test cricket. Like Kallis, he found a little out-swing in conditions gloomy enough for the lights to be switched on from 3.23 p.m. until the close.

When South Africa batted, Kirsten was dropped with the score at nine, and it was not until another 48 runs had been added that West Indies broke through. The miss may have been even more expensive than it seemed as the middle order were shielded from the new ball. Rose got more swing than anyone on either side and, in one top-class 11-over spell on the second morning, took three for 30. He also ran Cullinan out from third man to reduce South Africa to 182 for five. Rhodes now produced the key innings of the match: with superb backfoot play, he delighted his home crowd by racing to 87 in 129 balls. Pollock was equally positive in their sixth-wicket stand of 80, and the pair profited from an out-of-sorts Ambrose, whose pace and rhythm were affected by a spate of no-balls, including four in one over. Thanks to another excellent spell from Rose, however, the last five wickets went for just 50, Pollock falling to an outstanding one-handed slip catch by Hooper. And Rose's seven for 84 were not only his best figures for West Indies, but also the best by any overseas bowler in a Kingsmead Test.

West Indies' opening pair again went quickly, but, on a true pitch and with the South Africans unable to obtain any swing on a hot, cloudless day, Lara and Chanderpaul were soon scoring freely. At last West Indian batsmanship was living up to its reputation, and they added 160 before falling in successive overs, to the relief of the flagging South African bowlers. Lara, having resisted the pull and hook throughout, departed when he at last yielded to temptation. Gibbs, diving full length to his wrong side at square leg, took a stunning one-handed catch. Chanderpaul then lost his concentration and pushed back a tame return catch. During his four-hour stay, he passed 2,000 Test runs.

The match was at a critical juncture, but Hooper did not survive long, falling to a contentious catch by Boucher. Television replays showed that Hooper's inside edge carried, but that Boucher grounded the ball as he completed his dive. With the wicket-keeper expressing no doubt about the legitimacy of the take, Hooper walked. The third umpire was not consulted. When Ganga was superbly caught at square leg- again by Gibbs - and Lewis became Donald's 250th Test victim on his 50th appearence, West Indies had lost five wickets in eight overs. The tail was mopped up at minimal expense, leaving South Africa a straightforward target on such a good wicket. The result was inevitable once Ambrose and Walsh broke down, managing just four overs apiece. Walsh was carried on a stretcher with a damaged hamstring.

Man of the Match; J. N. Rhodes.

Attendance: 46,817.

Close of the play: First day, South Africa 46-0 (Kirsten 15*, Gibbs 26*); Second day, South Africa 292-8 (Rhodes 85*, Donald 1*); Third day, West Indies 246-8 (Jacobs 12*, Ambrose 0*).

© John Wisden & Co