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Jason Holder bailed West Indies out of trouble with an unbeaten 81 against hosts South Africa in the second Test on Friday at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. CMC image

Holder gives Windies a lifeline with unbeaten 81

March 9, 2023

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 on Thursday.

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.”

Holder added: “I want to get up the (batting) order, I have had an indifferent time the last year, but I want to bat at six. I think I am good enough.

“I have worked really hard on a couple of things and (this innings) was an example of that.”

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.
West Indies got off to a shaky start when opener Tagenarine Chanderpaul was run out for one in the fourth over of their reply when he failed to beat a direct hit at the striker’s end from South Africa captain Temba Bavuma running around from mid-off to cover.

Three further wickets – two to pacer Gerald Coetzee – sent them slumping to 73 for four at lunch.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite looked set to play with unaccustomed freedom, hitting a few crisp strokes before he gave more evidence that he has now become Kagiso Rabada’s bunny when the South African pacer got him caught at first slip for 17.

Three overs later, Jermaine Blackwood, Brathwaite’s deputy, was caught behind off Coetzee for six, nibbling outside the off-stump, and left-hander Raymon Reifer helped the Caribbean side cross 50 before he was caught at forward short leg off the same bowler for 15.

After lunch, Roston Chase and Mayers ensured West Indies avoided the ignominy of a double-digit total when they linked up for a solid 52-run stand for the fifth wicket that carried the total past 100.

But good fortune failed to smile on Chase when he was bowled for 28 after he played a delivery from Wiaan Mulder onto his back pad, the ball trickled back onto the stumps and dislodged the bails.

A near 45-minute period of defiance between Mayers and Joshua Da Silva was then broken when the left-hander fell to Rabada, and it looked like West Indies were going to concede a substantial lead, but Holder led the revival to ease the pain.

Jason Holder bailed West Indies out of trouble with an unbeaten 81 against hosts South Africa in the second Test on Friday at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. CMC image

Coetzee was the most successful Proteas bowler with three for 41 from 14 overs, while Rabada and Harmer snared two wickets apiece.

West Indies trail 0-1 in the two-Test series after South Africa won the first Test that ended last Thursday at Centurion Park in Pretoria by 87 runs.

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