Ntini puts South Africa on course for victory

Close West Indies 410 (Lara 202, Ntini 5-94) and 31 for 3 require another 347 runs to beat South Africa 561 and 226 for 6 dec

After Brian Lara's heroics yesterday, South Africa responded with a sparkling allround display to put them on course for victory in the first Test at the Wanderers. They wrapped up West Indies' first innings for only 47 more runs in the morning - including Lara for 202 - and extended their lead to 377 with some aggressive batting. Makhaya Ntini then provided the finishing touches with three late wickets to leave West Indies staring at defeat on 31 for 3, and 346 runs behind.

It was unquestionably South Africa's day, right from the moment the impressive Ntini made the early breakthrough through to his late three-wicket burst. The only blemish in their day of domination was a horrific injury to Herchelle Gibbs, who had to leave the field with a broken nose in the afternoon.

However, it was West Indies who were left feeling the pain as they surrendered their competitive position with firstly a lower-order collapse of four wickets for 30 runs, and then with their nightmare ending. After Graeme Smith had declared South Africa's second innings on 226 for 6 with ten overs left in the day, Ntini roared in and did all the damage. He clean bowled Wavell Hinds and the nightwatchman Vasbert Drakes, and then trapped Daren Ganga lbw to hammer home South Africa's advantage.

Ntini, along with Andre Nel, was also responsible for West Indies' poor start to the day as well. They both bowled with good bounce and lift, exploiting the cracks developing in the pitch. Merv Dillon was the first to go, beaten by a lightning inswinger from Ntini which sent his leg stump flying back (380 for 7). And that was a sign of things to come. Chris Gayle limped down the long staircase and out on to the pitch with Hinds as a runner. Still suffering from a torn left hamstring, he tentatively poked around for 15 balls before he became Ntini's fifth victim of the innings (405 for 8).

Lara tried to step up the tempo and he murderously cut and drove Nel in same over. Nel looked resigned to Lara's breathtaking form, and when he brought up his sixth Test double-century with a slash over cover, it was a case of here we go again. However, the very next ball, Lara attempted the same shot and drilled it straight to Martin van Jaarsveld at extra cover (409 for 9). Fidel Edwards didn't last long, and it represented a job well done by the South African attack.

Gibbs and Smith carefully negotiated a solid start to the second innings, before Smith put his foot down on the accelerator. He smashed some wayward bowling to all parts of the ground, cutting and pulling anything remotely loose. But just as the innings was starting to pick up pace, a sickening injury to Gibbs slowed things down. He tried to hook a Drakes bouncer, and the ball flew past his bat and crashed between the peak of the helmet and the visor. Gibbs immediately fell to the ground with blood pouring from his nose. The team physio rushed on the pitch and mopped up the mess, and a startled Gibbs staggered off the field looking like a bloodied and beaten boxer. The result was two nasal bone fractures, and he will undergo surgery on Wednesday morning to reset his nose.

Jacques Rudolph took Gibbs's place and he made a cautious start, perhaps wary that his place in the side is under threat. The innings gradually became slower and slower, and in an attempt to get things going again, Smith paid the price for a loose shot. He drove Drakes on the up and squirted the ball to Devon Smith, the substitute fielder, who took a smart catch, diving to his right at point (72 for 1).

After a typically cautious start, Jacques Kallis upped the pace with some searing square-cuts and a huge heave over square-leg for six. Smith applauded the shot heartily from the balcony - and he had clearly given the signal for the charge. The innings took on a different dimension as the batsmen sacrificed their wickets in search for quick runs. After Kallis played all around a straight half-volley and was plumb lbw to Hinds (145 for 2), Rudolph carved Ramnaresh Sarwan for two consecutive fours. Going for another big hit, he slashed Hinds to Sarwan at extra cover, who took the catch at the second attempt (158 for 3).

Boucher was promoted to No. 5 and he muscled his way to a quickfire 18 before he was stumped trying to smash Sarwan down the ground (180 for 4). Van Jaarsveld unleashed a pearling cover-drive and brutish hit down the ground. His innings was cut short, though, when he was run out by a direct hit by Sarwan at mid-on (188 for 5). Pollock was then undone by one that nipped back from Collymore and clipped his off stump (206 for 6). By that stage the lead was 357, but Smith chose to carry on.

At least it gave the chance for Robin Peterson to amend for his shocking bowling display yesterday, and he whipped a sprightly 18 from 11 balls. And after he had added 20 more runs with Neil McKenzie, Smith finally called them in to leave West Indies with a tricky last ten overs, and Ntini made sure it was as difficult as possible.