At Centurion, January 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 2004. South Africa won by ten wickets. Toss: West Indies.
Lara won the toss for the first time and, encouraged by the grassiest pitch of the series and damp, overcast conditions that delayed the start by half an hour, chose to bowl. It made no difference. West Indies were overwhelmed by another huge South African total, almost half of it from openers Graeme Smith and Gibbs, who put on 301, a national record for any wicket against West Indies. They became the first pair to share three triple-hundred stands in Tests - all inside 13 months. Only their Indian contemporaries Dravid and Laxman, and Ponsford and Bradman 70 years earlier, have shared 300 stands even twice. Meanwhile, Kallis began to threaten further records by scoring his fourth hundred of the series.
South Africa gained a lead of 303 and had West Indies back in on the third evening. Hopes that they could salvage a draw, prompted by spirited hundreds from Sarwan and Gayle and the unsettled weather, swiftly disappeared as the last seven wickets tumbled for 75 on the last day. The 3.4 overs it took Smith and Gibbs to complete victory were a précis of the indiscipline that marked West Indies' cricket throughout the series. There were ten wides from Edwards - only two deliveries, but each went for four, the second sprayed in the general direction of fine leg to end the match - shoddy ground fielding and a remarkable catch by Dwayne Smith at long-on that was transformed into six when he stepped on to the rope.
West Indian confusion was evident from the start. Moments before the toss, Lara changed the chosen eleven, borrowing Graeme Smith's pen to insert Dillon on the team sheet instead of Sanford. This created the impression, never convincingly dispelled, that Lara was countermanding the instructions of Sir Viv Richards, the chief selector. With a little luck, the switch would have had quick returns: Gibbs was severely tested by Dillon's opening spell. As it was, Sarwan's off-target underarm throw from cover with Smith, on 23, well short of his ground was the only chance to separate the openers. Finally, Smith snicked Collymore to Jacobs two balls before the first day closed with nearly 23 overs remaining, in spite of the floodlights. During his five hours, Smith gathered 89 of his 139 runs on the leg side, where he hit both his sixes. The floodlights were required again throughout the second day. Gibbs was just short of his third Test double-hundred when he cut Sarwan's leg-break to point. In nearly eight hours' occupation, he hit three sixes and 24 fours. Another Kallis hundred followed, chanceless, measured and seemingly inevitable. As always, his defence was tight and his judgment impeccable, yet he despatched loose deliveries with withering power: he took 31 runs from 17 balls just before the declaration.
Andre Nel must have been relieved when play - extended because of the shortened first day - was ended again by bad light. He just had time to be whisked off by helicopter to his wedding, arranged long before, at nearby Benoni. Nel was back next morning to join Ntini in harassing the West Indians with persistent pace. Only Gayle held them up long, hitting a six and 14 typically powerful fours in three hours before he was one of Ntini's five victims.
Ntini struck Gayle painfully on the box when West Indies followed on, forcing him to retire for overnight recuperation. Ganga and Lara, lbw presenting no shot and out to Nel for the fourth successive innings, were permanent losses before the close of the third day.
South Africa's victory was delayed by a combination of rain and poor light, which restricted the fourth day to 64 overs, and determined batting by Sarwan and the returning Gayle, who closed with hundreds to their names and their partnership worth 164. News of the death of David Hookes in Australia cast a pall of gloom over the final day. It was matched by the weather and the West Indian batting. After play was delayed for more than two hours by heavy and persistent rain, Gayle added just one run, Sarwan another 12. Only hearty hitting by Dillon and the tail ensured South Africa had to bat again. Given the nonsense that followed, it would have been better for West Indies if they hadn't.
Man of the Match: H. H. Gibbs. Attendance: 44,220.