CENTURION—Unbeaten centuries from AB de Villiers and captain Hashim Amla squashed a brief flicker of resistance from West Indies, as South Africa dominated the opening day of the first Test in South Africa, yesterday.
Asked to bat in bowler friendly conditions at SuperSport Park, South Africa slumped to 57 for three just after the first hour but recovered through the brilliance of de Villiers and Amla, who dominated the last two sessions to propel the hosts to 340 for three at the close.
De Villiers stroked an attractive 141 not out and Amla, an unbeaten 131, two innings that snuffed the life out the Windies after they conjured up an enterprising period during the morning period which had hinted at something greater.
The pair have so far added 283 for the fourth wicket—a record for South Africa.
Impressive fast bowler Kemar Roach, the Windies’ best bowler so far with two for 52, struck twice in successive overs to help cripple the top order early on.
Openers Dean Elgar, who hit 28 and Alviro Petersen, 27, added 57 without much alarm in the first hour, as West Indies bowlers struggled to get it right.
Petersen started with successive fours off the first two balls of the innings from fast bowler Jerome Taylor, stray deliveries that were clipped to the leg-side boundary.
He took a third boundary through gully off Taylor in the right-armer’s next over and Elgar joined in the fun next over, swatting a short all from left-arm seamer Sheldon Cottrell—who surprisingly shared the new ball with Taylor—through mid-wicket for four.
It was Roach who got the breakthrough on the stroke of the first hour, when he got one to straighten in his third over to Petersen, for the right hander to nick a simple catch to Devon Smith at first slip.
Petersen faced 44 balls and struck six fours.
His dismissal sparked a slide where South Africa lost three quick wickets for no runs in the space of 14 balls.
In the next over—the first after the water break—Cottrell claimed the Windies’ second wicket, getting Elgar to slash a wide long hop to Marlon Samuels at gully, after facing three balls in his 42-ball knock.
Roach then struck again in the next over, producing another delivery which pitched and straightened and clipped the outside edge of Faf du Plessis’s bat through to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin.
With South Africa reeling, de Villiers and Amla arrived to turn the innings around in a partnership that completely deflated the tourists.
The right-handed de Villiers faced 211 balls and struck 15 fours and two sixes to post this 20th Test hundred in his 96th Test while Amla, also a right-hander, hit 17 fours off 244 balls in carving out his 23rd triple figure score.
Both started cautiously before moving quickly into stride, Amla crashing two successive fours through point off Taylor in the first over of a second spell and de Villiers stroking left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn to the cover boundary just before lunch for his second boundary.
On 102 for three at lunch, South Africa scored heavily in the next session, reeling off 115 runs as both batsmen put West Indies bowlers to the sword.
De Villiers moved into the 40s with two consecutive boundaries off Cottrrell in the bowler’s tenth over before reaching his half-century in streaky fashion, with a top edge for four off Cottrell a couple overs later.
Amla also moved into the 40s with a streaky shot over first slip off Cottrell and reached his 50th Test match half-century with a single to backward point off the ineffective Taylor.
He celebrated in the same over, whipping the bowler through mid-wicket for four before following up next ball with a superb drive to the cover ropes.
Both batsmen were in sight of their centuries at tea, with South Africa on 225 for three, and de Villiers motored into the 90s with two boundaries off Roach in the second over after the resumption.
He eventually reached three figures with a single to mid-off off Benn, off 137 balls with 14 fours and one six—a straight-ish hit off Benn.
Amla, meanwhile, whipped Roach to the ropes at mid-wicket to move into the 90s and then raised three figures in style—driving Benn to the cover boundary and then cutting the lanky spinner to the point boundary a couple deliveries later. (CMC)