Dean Elgar’s five-hour occupation of the fold while compiling a valuable 77 took South Africa from depths of 37 for three to comparative comfort of 218 for five on opening day of the second test against the West Indies Friday.
Elgar’s disciplined shot of 77, which spanned 237 deliveries and included eight fours, was exactly what was required of Captain Proteas.
He had seen three wickets fall in an early morning session interrupted by rain under gray skies and on a seam pitch where the early humidity on numerous occasions helped the ball hit the bat.
His watchful style contrasted sharply with the other southpaw’s manner in the Tourists’ batting lineup with Quinton de Kock following unbeaten best-test 141 in the first test with an equally positive stroke of 59 on 103 balls.
Their fifth-wicket partnership achieved 79 points and ended when Elgar was cheated and knocked down by the smart middle pace of all-rounder Kyle Mayers in the last hour of the day.
The South African skipper had already received strong support from Kyle Verreynne in a fourth wicket stand worth 87.
Having missed a big score in his first innings a week earlier, Verreyne doubled his effort as the West Indian bowlers stuck to their plan of attack on a sunnier afternoon.
However, they were thwarted by the compact right-hander who ultimately fell in the final before tea for 27, securing a slight touch on a hook attempt from Shannon Gabriel for wicket keeper Joshua da Silva to take over from the side of the leg.
Heavily criticized after choosing to strike first on a seam pitch in the first test at the same spot, home captain Kraigg Brathwaite didn’t hesitate to go first by winning the draw again.
This proved to be justified with Gabriel, who missed the first test due to injury, relative newcomer Jayden Seales and senior crimper Kemar Roach each taking a wicket.
Gabriel had passed two tests for a single wicket against Sri Lanka in the previous series three months earlier on placid grounds in Antigua.
But he saw immediate success here with Aiden Markram slashing on a short and wide delivery before scoring to give Roston Chase a comfortable hold at the back point.
Keegan Petersen tried to set up in partnership with Elgar, but then edged out a full delivery of Seales for former captain Jason Holder to capture the hold on the second slip.
Rassie van der Dussen struggled to bat on the ball, then fell due to his own error in judgment, offering Roach no shot only to have his stump pushed back.
South Africa retained the same side that beat the home side by one set and 63 points in three days in the first test.
However, the West Indies drafted Gabriel in place of off-spinner specialist Rahkeem Cornwall.
Opening batsman Kieran Powell, who was a concussion substitute for middle-order batsman Nkrumah Bonner, retained his spot.
The West Indies must win this match to avoid an eighth consecutive Test Series loss to the Proteas since they claimed victory in their very first historic Test match, a one-time encounter in Barbados in 1992.
str / dj