Gros-Islet, Saint Lucia (AFP)— Keshav Maharaj completed only the second-ever hat-trick by a South African in Test history as the West Indies slid to 109 for six, in pursuit of a daunting target of 324, at lunch on the fourth day of the second Test of the two-match series at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia today.
With the home side primarily concerned about the potency of the Proteas’ pace attack, reinforced by two early strikes from Kagiso Rabada and then a third scalp courtesy of a poor shot from Kyle Mayers, it was the left-arm orthodox spinner who ripped the heart out of the innings in the penultimate over of the session.
Opening batsman Kieran Powell, who looked composed and assured through most of his innings of 51, hoisted Maharaj to deep midwicket where Anrich Nortje barely had to move in taking the catch.
Jason Holder prodded at his first delivery for Keegan Petersen to take the sharp catch at short-leg and then Wiaan Mulder pulled off a superb snare low to his right at leg-slip when wicketkeeper-batsman Joshua da Silva attempted a leg-side glance to the hat-trick delivery.
The South Africans celebrated noisily as Maharaj joined fast bowler Geoff Griffin as the only players to take Test hat-tricks for South Africa.
Griffin, whose career was subsequently ruined by doubts over the legality of his bowling action, achieved the feat against England at Lord’s in 1960.
Until that over, South Africa had relied on the excellence of Rabada to limit West Indies’ prospects after they resumed at the overnight position of 15 without loss.
With the memory of their successful bid to chase down 395 against Bangladesh in February still fresh in their minds, the home side even had thoughts of winning the Test and squaring the series.
That scenario changed quickly as captain Kraigg Braithwaite gave his South African counterpart Dean Elgar a straightforward catch at first slip and Shai Hope, who never looked comfortable against the short-pitched aggression of his opponents, fended at another spiteful delivery angled into his body, a faint touch off his left glove carrying through to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
Mayers was adjudged leg-before to the very first ball he faced from Rabada, only for the verdict to be negated by the fast bowler’s delivery being ruled a no-ball.
Granted the reprieve, Mayers grew in authority alongside Powell, their partnership worth 64 to give the home team hope of causing considerable anxiety in the South African camp.
However Mayers, on 34, spoiled all of that good work when he inexplicably attempted a pull to Rabada, who was operating round the wicket, and the top-edge was well-judged by Elgar running back from first slip.
With Roston Chase incapacitated by a thigh strain, it leaves West Indies limping along into the afternoon session with Jermaine Blackwood partnered by fast bowler Kemar Roach.
Headline photo: Keshav Maharaj of South Africa celebrates the dismissal of Jason Holder of West Indies during day 4 of the 2nd Test between South Africa and West Indies at Darren Sammy Cricket Ground, Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, on June 21, 2021 (Photo: AFP)