JOHANNESBURG: Former captain Jason Holder lifted a struggling West Indies and frustrated South Africa with an innings of 81 not out on the second day of the second Test at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Thanks largely to Holder, the West Indies scored 251 in their first innings. They trailed by 69 runs but it looked likely to be much worse before Holder played a sparkling innings.
“The important thing for us was to stay in the game,” Holder said after inspiring a rearguard action in which the last four wickets added 135 runs.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” he told SuperSport television. “You’ve got to put trust in your partners and give them responsibility.”
South Africa faced three overs at the end of the day, scoring four runs without loss to take their overall lead to 73 runs.
Whereas none of his teammates could score freely — and none managed more than Kyle Mayers’ battling 29 off 83 balls — the tall Holder looked in command from the start of his innings.
Batting at number eight, he went in with the West Indies in big trouble at 116 for six in reply to South Africa’s 320 all out.
Holder and Joshua Da Silva (26) started the recovery by putting on 41 for the seventh wicket.
The comeback accelerated as the last two batsmen, Kemar Roach (13) and Gudakesh Motie (17) helped Holder add 89 runs for the last two wickets.
The 10th-wicket partnership of 58 with Motie was the highest of the innings.
Holder admitted he would like to bat higher in the order. “I’ve had an indifferent time of late,” he said, “but I would like to bat at number six.”
Holder hit four sixes and eight fours in a 117-ball innings and said the Wanderers pitch was “pretty good for batters”.
Gerald Coetzee, playing in his second Test, took three for 41 and fellow fast bowler Kagiso Rabada took two for 19. Rabada only sent down 12 overs and did not bowl after tea.
On a pitch expected to take spin later in the match, spinners Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj bowled a combined 38.3 overs but could only take three wickets while conceding 140 runs.
Coetzee, 22, said he had set out to “hit the pitch” and bowl fast in the absence of the injured Anrich Nortje. “If you look at the bowling attack today I think that was my role. I enjoy hitting the pitch.”
Coetzee said his impressive start in Test cricket had been eased by being part of the South African Test squad in Australia earlier in the season, even though he did not play a match.
“I went there as a back-up bowler but to be there and learn was exactly what I needed.”
Coetzee said the Wanderers pitch provided a more even contest between bat and ball than the first Test in Centurion, “but there is something for the bowlers”.