The West Indies face a daunting task when they take on South Africa in the second Test in Port Elizabeth’s St. George’s Park on Friday. The tourists were outplayed in the first Test in Centurion, where they were beaten by an innings and 220 runs, with the match ending before lunch on the fourth day.
It was such a one-sided contest that South Africa will again be strong favourites, even though there are several factors that favour the West Indians in Port Elizabeth, where the pitches usually offer minimal seam movement and less pace than other South African venues. It was in the coastal city seven years ago that the West Indies gained their only win in 13 Test matches in South Africa. Three of the current squad played significant roles, with Shivnarine Chanderpaul (104) and Marlon Samuels (94), the mainstays of a strong first innings, while fast bowler Jerome Taylor had match figures of six for 112.
On his part, Chanderpaul played down the significance of conditions at St. George’s Park when he spoke to journalists on Tuesday. He though, agreed with South African batsman Faf du Plessis that the West Indies tended to blow “hot and cold” and attributed the 2007 win to the fact that “we had a good match”.
“We know we are much better than we showed in Centurion,” said Chanderpaul, but he acknowledged the difficulties of taking on what he described as “the best bowling attack in the world”.
In fact, Chanderpaul and Samuels will again be key players in what appears to be a fragile West Indian batting order. Both will be seeking to improve on their performances in Centurion where Samuels made 33 and 17, while Chanderpaul was out for 21 and four. Samuels fell victim to a short delivery from Morne Morkel in the first innings, while Chanderpaul gloved a vicious bouncer from Dale Steyn in the second innings.
Steyn, who took six for 34 in the second innings in Centurion, has taken 21 wickets in four Tests in Port Elizabeth and said that although the pitch was slower, he could be effective because he was not especially tall. Earlier this year, Steyn had produced a match-winning spell of fast reverse swing bowling against Australia at St. George’s Park. “I’m a bit skiddier so when I bowl a bouncer guys tend to play a little bit more whereas in Centurion guys can get out of the way because of the bounce.”
South Africa are likely to make two changes to their winning team. Batsman, Temba Bavuma, who is set to become only the sixth black African to play in a Test match for the country, in place of injured wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock, with AB de Villiers keeping wicket, as he did in both innings at Centurion.
Due to the slower surface, South Africa are likely to play a spin bowler, with seamer, Kyle Abbott, probably sitting out in favour of leg-spinner Imran Tahir. Tahir was drafted into the squad on Tuesday when left-arm spinner, Robin Peterson, suffered an injury to his bowling hand.