PORT ELIZABETH— Embattled West Indies touched down here yesterday afternoon, to start preparations for the crucial Second Test against South Africa starting Boxing Day.
The visitors, still smarting from their heavy innings and 220-run defeat at Centurion in the First Test, arrived to a distinctly Caribbean-flavoured ceremony, involving dancers and steel pan orchestra.
Following a rest day, the Windies will hold their first training session today evening, as they beef up preparations for the Test they must win if they are to have any chance of clinching the three-match series.
They are expected to be joined shortly by left-arm seamer Kenroy Peters who was called up last weekend to replace injured fast bowler Kemar Roach.
Barbadian Roach has been ruled out of the series after injuring his right ankle during the final session of the opening day of the first Test.
There has been no word yet on the arrival of left-hander Narsingh Deonarine, a replacement for the injured Assad Fuddin.
West Indies won the last Boxing Day Test here seven years ago, when they beat the hosts 128 runs, but went on to lose the three-match series 2-1.
Yesterday captain Denesh Ramdin warned detractors not to write West Indies off just yet.
The tourists were humiliated by an innings and 220 runs on the fourth morning of the opening Test at Centurion on Saturday, to send them 1-0 down in the three-Test series.
West Indies now head into the second Test starting Boxing Day in Port Elizabeth, a venue where West Indies pulled off their only success on their last tour of South Africa seven years ago, when they won by 128 runs.
Ramdin is taking hope from that performance.
“The first hour, on the first day of the Test match was good, getting three wickets for a little bit of runs [but] we didn’t assess it well going forward. Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers came together and had a brilliant partnership and we didn’t bowl in the areas we want to that would have created more opportunities,” Ramdin said.
“Our last memory there we won a Test match and from this game, we would like to take some of the positives when we go down there,” he told reporters.
“We should be having that little bit of confidence from the last time we won but having said that, cricket plays on the day and everyone needs to come up with their A game.
“We’re 1-0 down in the series and it is tough to beat this South African team which is the number one team [in the World] but I think we have some fight in us and we can give them a good fight down in Port Elizabeth.”
West Indies put in a poor showing all-round at Centurion. They reduced the hosts to 57 for three after winning the toss and bowling in good conditions, but allowed captain Hashim Amla (208) and AB de Villiers (152) to add a record 308 for the fourth wicket and propel South Africa to 552 for five declared in their first innings.
In reply, the Windies were dismissed for 201 in their first innings and following on, were bundled out for 131, to suffer their heaviest defeat in South Africa.
Ramdin said the West Indies attack was good enough to bowl South Africa out twice but needed to be disciplined.
“Having Kemar Roach out was a blow for us and we had to make up with the other guys,” he added, referring to Roach’s ankle injury in the final session of the opening day that ruled him out of the series.
“I believe we have the resources, I just believe we need to adjust to the pitches here. I think we bowled too short,” he contended.
“The results that we got on the first morning of the Test match, guys got caught behind and if you look back at it, you can say we were [guilty] of bowling too short to AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla [allowing them] to score square of the wicket.” CMC