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Fast bowler Alzarri Joseph appeals successfully for an lbw decision against South Africa captain Temba Bavuma on the first day of the opening Test. (CMC Image)

Joseph inspires Windies fightback

February 28, 2023

CMC – Rejuvenated fast bowler Alzarri Joseph led a stirring West Indies resurgence after tea as the Caribbean side dominated the final session, to claw their back on the opening day of the first Test against South Africa here Tuesday.

With the hosts coasting 206 for one at the second interval after choosing to bat first, the 26-year-old Joseph (3-60) struck key blows by removing century-maker Aiden Markram for 115 and captain Temba Bavuma for a two-ball ‘duck’, as South Africa lost seven wickets for 108 runs to limp to the close on 314 for eight.

Joseph had earlier in the second session accounted for former captain Dean Elgar for 71, after the left-hander put on 141 with Markram for the first wicket to punish West Indies at SuperSport Park.

Debutant left-hander Tony de Zorzi got a start with 28 while Heinrich Klaasen chipped in with a breezy 20 but South Africa struggled late on to regain the dominance they had earlier flaunted.

“I think it was pretty crucial we got those wickets in the back end because you didn’t really want the game to get too far ahead of you,” Joseph said afterwards.

“Because then you will have to chase it too much tomorrow or on day three, and you never know how the wicket is going to react.”

The morning belonged to the Proteas, however, Markram and Elgar keeping West Indies without success in the first session, as they guided their side to 99 without loss at the lunch break.

West Indies had a golden opportunity to remove Elgar inside the first hour when medium pacer Kyle Mayers found his edge on 10 but Jermaine Blackwood grassed the catch at third slip.

Markram, in his first Test in seven months, led the scoring for South Africa, lashing 18 fours off 174 deliveries to post his sixth Test hundred while Elgar counted 11 fours in a knock which required only 118 deliveries.

Little changed after lunch, the pair continuing to score freely until Joseph got the breakthrough with the  drinks break approaching, Elgar attempting to upper cut a short ball and picking out Blackwood back-pedalling at third man.

The breakthrough proved isolated, however, as Markram found an ally in de Zorzi to post an additional 80 for the second wicket and take South Africa to tea without further loss.

Unbeaten on 97 at the interval, Markram reached his century in the second over following the resumption, when he punched Joseph to the point boundary.

Things then fell apart. In Joseph’s next over, de Zorzi sprinted a couple to deep cover but in his bid for a third run, found himself short at the striker’s end after being sent back by Markram.

Two balls later, Joseph struck Bavuma plumb in front and the right-armer then claimed the key wicket of Markram when he yorked him sensationally.

Now reeling at 236 for four, South Africa were propped up in a 26-run fifth wicket stand between Klaasen and Keegan Petersen (14) before the floodgates opened again.

Klaasen, who struck four fours off 20 balls, was cramped by a short one from Shannon Gabriel and tugged a pull to Joseph running around from mid on, and Senuran Muthusamy followed for three with nine runs added, lbw offering no shot to seamer Kemar Roach.

Petersen was seventh out, lbw playing across to Mayers and Kagiso Rabada edged a straightforward catch to Blackwood at second slip off pacer Jason Holder, to perish for eight in the third over before the close.

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