South Africa, Windies suffer as rain gamble fails

Pouring rain and three wickets set South Africa back in the opening Test against West Indies.

updated: June 11, 2010 16:02 IST
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Port of Spain:

Pouring rain and three wickets set South Africa back in the opening Test against West Indies.

The South Africans, electing to bat, reached 70-3 in their first innings when bad light stopped play early on the rain-hit opening day at Queen's Park Oval on Thursday.

Only 34 overs were possible in just over two hours of play, as the West Indies Cricket Board's decision to stage a Test in the middle of the Trinidad & Tobago wet season seriously backfired.

South Africa skipper Graeme Smith gave the Proteas a solid base in an opening stand of 55 with Alviro Petersen, when play started four hours and 35 minutes late because of the weather.

But Smith was caught at slip to become the maiden Test scalp for off-spinner Shane Shillingford in the eighth over after tea.

Before the first rain stoppage, Petersen had good fortune on 23, when he played defensively forward, edged Suleiman Benn, and wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin missed a chance in the first over after tea.

Fortune continued to favour Petersen after the stoppage, when he survived an lbw appeal to Benn, after West Indies referred a "not-out" decision from umpire Steve Davis to video umpire Simon Taufel.

The South Africans then suffered a major blow, when Hashim Amla, the most prolific batsman in the preceding limited-overs matches, was caught at slip off Benn for two, and Petersen's luck finally ran out, when he was lbw to Shillingford playing across, following a video referral.

But the conditions overhead steadily worsened, and the umpires spared the Proteas further torment from Shillingford and Benn, both of whom gained generous turn from the pitch.

Shillingford ended the day with two wickets for five runs from six overs, and Benn finished with one for 21 from 11 overs.

Earlier, Smith and Petersen gave the South Africans a solid start before tea, when play began four hours and 35 minutes later than scheduled.

The pair mixed resolute batting with some crisp strokeplay, with Smith essaying a couple of firm pulls off Ravi Rampaul for two of his three boundaries, and Petersen sweeping Benn through square leg for one of his two fours.

Smith had a few close shaves on 10 and 18, when he edged Rampaul just short of third slip, and drove Dwayne Bravo just wide of the short cover fielder respectively, but West Indies had to wait until after tea to pouch him.