Ramdin praises Windies' fight

Denesh Ramdin (Gallo Images)
Denesh Ramdin (Gallo Images)

Port Elizabeth - West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin hailed his side's best day on tour after they fought back on the third day of the second Test against South Africa at St George's Park on Sunday.

Kraigg Brathwaite (65 not out) and Marlon Samuels (60 not out) hit half-centuries as the West Indies reached 144 for two in reply to South Africa's 417 for eight declared.

Ramdin praised his bowlers, who took five wickets for 128 runs, despite a lightning 58 off 28 balls by Dale Steyn, and said the West Indian batsmen had made a good start.

He said the bowlers had absorbed the lessons of their first Test defeat in Centurion by bowling accurately on a slow pitch and denying the South African batsmen width.

"Then the young Kraigg Brathwaite batted really well and Marlon Samuels showed his class and maturity," said Ramdin.

Morne Morkel was the only successful South African bowler, taking two wickets in two balls.

He ended a 55-run opening partnership between Brathwaite and Devon Smith by having Smith caught at first slip, with Leon Johnson edging the next delivery to third slip.

Bad light ended play with 16 overs remaining after rain delayed the start of play by an hour.

With most of the second day lost to rain, South Africa were hoping to score quick runs on Sunday morning before making inroads into a potentially fragile West Indian batting line-up. But they were frustrated on both counts.

The West Indies took four wickets before lunch, including the prize scalps of Amla and AB de Villiers, who were dismissed in successive overs.

Only 80 runs were scored during the morning but Dale Steyn went on the rampage after the interval, thrashing 58 off 28 balls with six fours and five sixes. Amla declared when Steyn was caught attempting another big hit off left-arm spinner Suleiman Benn.

South African bowling coach Allan Donald gave credit to the West Indian batsmen, although he said it was always going to be hard work for the bowlers on a typically slow St George's Park pitch.

"Brathwaite and Samuels batted smartly," said Donald. "Morne (Morkel) bowled an inspiring spell to get his wickets but when he dished it out, they played exceptionally well."

Both Ramdin and Donald said bowlers needed to be creative on a slow pitch.

"You need someone like Morne or Dale Steyn to bowl two lengths and mix it up a little," added Donald.

Although a result seemed unlikely, Donald hoped that hints of reverse swing late in the day would lead to wickets falling on Monday morning to put pressure on a long West Indian tail.

Amla hit two fours in the first over of the day, bowled by Jerome Taylor, but only added ten to his overnight score of 23 before he was trapped leg before wicket by a ball from Jason Holder which nipped back off the pitch.

New cap Temba Bavuma scored a boundary off his first ball, when a defensive shot flew to third man off a thick edge from Holder but De Villiers was out in the next over, bowled by Taylor.

The scoring rate slowed as Bavuma and the similarly inexperienced Stiaan van Zyl, playing in his second Test, could only add 21 in 10.2 overs.

Steyn transformed the tempo of the innings as he launched a brutal assault on fellow fast bowler Taylor immediately after lunch. He reached his second Test fifty off 26 balls, the joint fourth fastest in Test history.

Brathwaite and Smith made a solid start, seeing off the new ball pairing of Steyn and Vernon Philander. The tall Morkel troubled Smith several times after coming on as first change and finally tempted the left-hander into edging a drive to Hashim Amla at first slip. Johnson followed immediately.

Samuels batted soundly but had an escape on 20 when he was given out lbw to Morkel by umpire Reiffel but a review showed the ball was going a centimetre or two above the stumps.

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