At Georgetown, March 9, 10, 11,12, 13. Drawn. Toss: West Indies.
Neither team could make enough headway on a slow, true pitch to claim an advantage. South Africa gained a first-innings lead of 28, thanks to Kirsten's 150, but there was encouragement for the home crowd when Hooper, in his first Test as captain, and Sarwan, both Guyanese, accelerated in a partnership of 89 to set up West Indies' declaration on the last morning. It offered South Africa a target of 306 and the West Indian bowlers 76 overs to press for victory. Neither was a genuine possibility. South Africa batted through without anxiety, losing only two wickets as Gibbs regained form and confidence; West Indies ended a run of seven Test defeats.
Hooper, whose contentious appointment was made only a week earlier, received a rapturous reception on the ground where he had played since he was a teenager, one of many banners proclaiming him as "His Royal Majesty, the Captain". After he chose to bat, Gayle, in his first Test for nine months, and Samuels, promoted to No. 3 in his fourth Test, established a promising foundation. Gayle struck the ball with fierce power, especially through the off side, and had 14 fours in his 81 when he slashed at Kallis to give Boucher his 150th dismissal in his 38th Test, beating Rod Marsh's record of 39.
West Indies passed 200 with only three wickets down. But Lara's wild slog at Klusener's off-cutter sent a steepling catch to mid-off and triggered a collapse of four for 22 in the final session. Hooper was the one remaining batsman, and next morning he found a dogged partner in Dillon, who stayed with him for almost two hours as they added 62. The captain was last out for 69, a responsible three-and-a-half-hour innings that enhanced his leadership position.
When South Africa replied, Gibbs was out early, but a stand of 146 between Kirsten and Kallis established a strong base. They were separated an hour and a half into the third day, Kallis unluckily ruled lbw to a ball from McLean that clipped his bat's inside edge, and either side of lunch Ramnarine, in his first Test since recovering from a shoulder operation a year earlier, tilted the balance by dismissing Cullinan and McKenzie. He might also have had Boucher, who when two lobbed a leg-break between extra cover and mid-off. Disregarding that alarm, Boucher helped add 76 before Kirsten finally fell to a tired shot just ahead of tea, top-edging his cut off Walsh to the keeper. His 12th Test hundred had brought him level with Cullinan again as South Africa's most prolific centurions; he was typically sound and purposeful for nearly seven and a half hours, striking a six over long-on off Ramnarine and 13 fours.
With Kirsten gone, the last five wickets managed only 58 more, whereupon Gayle and Hinds quickly erased the lead while hammering nine fours in 50 off 15 overs on the third evening. However, West Indies' progress was so slow next day that the 28 overs before lunch raised only 44 for the loss of both openers. Samuels and Lara avoided a middle-order collapse, but it was not until Hooper and Sarwan got going in the final session that a declaration came into the reckoning. Hooper survived a close lbw call to Kallis first ball and, after a cautious start, put on 62 with Sarwan in the last 11 overs of the day. Both fell next morning in the push for more quick runs, with Sarwan unwisely testing Gibbs at square leg to be run out nine short of a classy maiden hundred.
West Indies might have caused South Africa a few anxious moments had Hooper not missed a regulation catch at second slip, off Gibbs, from Dillon's fifth ball. Gibbs took full advantage to put together his highest score for South Africa since he was suspended for his part in the match-fixing affair.
Man of the Match: G. Kirsten.