Mayers swings the pendulum with late double strike
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CMC):
West Indies dramatically snatched five wickets - two to Kyle Mayers in the closing overs - in a stirring comeback after tea to turn around their fortunes against hosts South Africa in the second Test yesterday.
Left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie was the most successful bowler for West Indies, but Mayers struck twice in the span of three balls in successive overs a little before the close, and the South Africans ended the opening day of the contest on 311 for seven.
For the second successive Test, the West Indies bowlers were untidy in the first two sessions, and the Proteas, led by Aiden Markram, and left-handed rookie Tony de Zorzi, rattled along at four runs an over and were comfortably placed on 247 for two at tea.
Once Jason Holder got South Africa captain Temba Bavuma lbw for 28, offering no stroke to a delivery that moved back, in the third over after the break, the fragility of their middle-order batting was again exposed.
Motie, returning after a lower-back injury sidelined him for the first Test, ended the day with three for 75 from 19 overs, including the prized scalps of Markram for the top score of 96 and de Zorzi, playing in his second Test, for a resolute 85.
But Mayers tilted the balance when he bowled Wiaan Mulder for 12 with a sharp inswinger in the third-to-last over and got Simon Harmer caught behind for one, edging a well-pitched leg-cutter in the final over to finish the day with two for 24 from 7.2 overs.
"In the first session of the game, we were searching to find out what was the best length, what was the best line to bowl on the deck," Mayers told reporters after play. "After bowling a few overs, we realised then that it was best to try to starve the batsmen of runs.
"They got ahead with the run rate, and we just wanted to bring it down a bit; and we thought that bringing down the run rate would have created more chances, and we did that."
He added: "It's still an open game. More than 300 runs on the board in the first innings is always good for a batting team, especially in these conditions with the ball moving around.
"It's just for us to limit them as much as possible under 400 to keep the game open. I thought they batted really well at the beginning, but the late strikes brought us back into the game."
Mayers said: "Once you are patient enough in a Test match, you will get the rewards. If you put the right amount of balls in the right areas for a long period of time, it always gives the batsman a hard time.
"Against any line-up, I think with our attack, once we get it right, I think we have a lot of wicket-taking deliveries, and I think it is just for us to build the pressure and be consistent.
"Once we do that in-between the wicket-taking deliveries, that is the most important thing for us. We just need to restrict the run rate, keep the scoring down, and we can take 20 wickets with this attack that we have," Mayers continued.