Holder gives WI lifeline with unbeaten 81
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CMC):
Jason Holder cracked his first half-century in more than a year-and-a-half, and bailed West Indies out of another batting crisis to reduce South Africa’s first innings lead to 69 in the second Test yesterday.
Holder was unbeaten on 81 and shared a string of tidy stands with the lower order, including 58 for the last wicket with Gudakesh Motie, before the Caribbean side were bowled out for 251 a little before the scheduled close on the second day at the Wanderers.
West Indies failed to make an early strike in the remaining three overs before stumps were drawn, and South Africa reached four without loss in their second innings for an overall lead of 73 with Dean Elgar, not out on three, and Aiden Markram, not out on one.
Once regarded the No. 1 all-rounder in the world in Tests because of his organised batting, which has supported his steady pace bowling and yielded a career-best double hundred three years ago, Holder has recently endured lean times with the bat.
It has been 24 innings in 12 Tests since his previous half-century of 58 not out against Pakistan in August 2021 at Sabina Park in the Jamaica capital of Kingston and came in similar circumstances that confronted him when he came to the crease.
The visitors had endured another top-order batting implosion, and they were left in typical strife on 116 for six when left-hander Kyle Mayers top edged a cut at a short, rising delivery from Kagiso Rabada and was caught by Elgar at first slip for 29.
Holder batted with positive intent and played an array of strokes that will take pride of place in the three One-day and three Twenty20 Internationals against the same opponents later this month and finished with eight fours and four sixes from 117 balls.
He roughed up and spoiled the figures of the South Africa spin bowling duo of left-armer Keshav Maharaj and off-spinner Simon Harmer to lead a superb counter-offensive for the Caribbean side.
The former captain stitched together a seventh wicket stand of 41 with Joshua Da Silva either side of taking West Indies to tea on 143 for six and put on 31 for the ninth wicket with compatriot Kemar Roach before he and Motie defied the Proteas for almost 40 minutes to give the Caribbean side a lifeline.
“It was good to get a partnership,” Holder said in a TV interview after play. “The momentum was with us, and I thought (Motie) looked as comfortable as the top-order batters.
“The most important thing was to stay in the game, and we did that. We need some early wickets (on Friday) morning. It’s a pretty good pitch for batting.”
West Indies will be hoping to carry the momentum from Holder’s redeeming innings into the third day and undermine the South Africa batting as they did in the second innings of the previous Test and at the start of the day.
The Caribbean side needed less than half-hour to polish off the remaining three South African first innings wickets after the hosts resumed from their overnight total of 311 for seven.
Pacer Alzarri Joseph snared two of the scalps and ended with three for 60 from 18.2 overs, and Mayers took the other wicket of Harmer to finish with three for 32 from nine overs.