A.B. de Villiers and Sulieman Benn, two key performers so far, believe the third and final Test between West Indies and South Africa is far from over.
De Villiers hit 73 and shared in a record sixth-wicket stand with Ashwell Prince as South Africa, replying to West Indies’ first innings total of 231, reached 285 for six when stumps were drawn on Sunday’s second day at Kensington Oval.
“West Indies are putting up a challenge,” said de Villiers. “They are playing some very good cricket, especially their bowling in this match.
“They came out, and fought really hard right up until the close of play. Benn bowled unbelievably well, and had us in trouble for most of the day.
“But we are a fairy well-balanced Test side, and we recovered well. It’s going to be a tough Test match over the next few days, and it is fairly evenly-balanced at the moment. We will have to come out and fight really hard for a win.”
Benn has been the most successful West Indies bowler with four wickets for 59 runs from 31 overs, and is confident that West Indies could still make a claim for victory, though the decks are heavily stacked against them.
“You always have to think that way,” he said. “One down in a series, you have to think that you could get a result out of it in your favour. You can’t just say die and go with your tail between your legs. We have to try hard.
“We have to be positive in what we are doing. Our second innings is crucial to our game plan, and we have to bat properly.”
De Villiers spent just over four hours at the crease, and struck just a half-dozen boundaries from 189 balls, which he indicated was testimony that batting on a slowish pitch was challenging.
“It was really tough stuff working out there (on Sunday),” he said. “I think Ashwell [Prince], and I played really well to give us a lead of 50-odd.
“It’s a shame I lost my wicket towards the end of the day. I would have loved to be there to bat when we resume (on Monday).
“That’s Test cricket for you. You’ve got to toil, and work hard for your runs.”
“I love working hard for my runs. I love playing Test cricket. You don’t want to get it any other way.
“I think I faced 180-odd balls for my 70, and that’s just proper Test cricket, and I really enjoyed every second of it. It’s just a pity I could not go on to reach a hundred.”
Benn acknowledged West Indies had allowed South Africa to wriggle free, after the visitors had slipped to 145 for five.
“De Villiers and Prince put on a 100-run partnership, when five wickets were down, but the pitch kind of got better for batting as the innings progressed,” he said. “We tried our best, but it just didn’t happen at that time.”
De Villiers twice benefitted from West Indies captain Chris Gayle’s decision not to challenge umpiring decisions, but both he and Benn were philosophical about it.
Benn summed it up in this way: “It’s a touch and go situation. Either it would go in your favour, or it won’t. That is just something that happens. We still have to get on with the job.”
Source: AFP – June 28, 2010 / PAUL MITCHELL