West Indies vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood had scores of 37 and 79 in the first test. Photo courtesy of WICB Media/Randy Brooks of Brooks Latouche Photography

By Ravendra Madholall
West Indies might be hard-pressed to avert a whitewash against a rampant South Africa team when they collide in the second and final test from Wednesday.

One of West Indies hugest disadvantage is that they are lacking familiarity with the conditions, the pitch and with few relatively inexperienced players in their lineup.

South Africa, the more rejuvenated side owing to their 87-run triumph over the tourists inside three days, will be boosted massively for this fixture.

Adding to their buoyancy, they had some outstanding, individual performances. Opener Aiden Markram fashioned his way to a brilliant 115 to inspire South Africa to a comfortable 342.

When West Indies batted, South Africa’s ace fast-bowler Anrich Nortje fired up to take five wickets despite conceded 81 runs in his 18.3 overs.

Brief resistance came from Raymond Reifer for the West Indians with 62 while vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood scored a fighting 37 and 22 each from Tagenarine Chanderpaul and Roston Chase.

West Indies bounced back with the ball as the hosts capitulated for 116 much to the consternation of their supporters. Again Markram demonstrated his fine form with a top-score of 47 as pacer Kemar Roach was prolific with the ball snaring 5-47 from 10 overs. He and his fellow pacer Alzarri Joseph gave West Indies a great amount of satisfaction in the bowling department. Joseph had a five-wicket haul in the initial innings.

But major concerns for the batting as they were all out for 159 in an inexplicable manner chasing a moderate 247 runs for victory well over two days remaining.

Although Blackwood batted with resilience to hit 79, they were intimidated by another South Africa’s dangerous quick bowler Kasigo Rabada. He was incisive to finish admirably with 6-50 in his memorable 15-overs outing.

In the context of things, West Indies are also lower in rankings to South Africa. Most of their batsmen lost form having come from Zimbabwe with a 1-0 series win.

It is essential opener and skipper Kraigg Brathwaite comes to the form on this occasion. His typical defiance could be helpful while his new opening partner Chanderpaul has also shown great proclivity to bat patiently. Once the other dependable batsmen like Kyle Mayers, Chase, wicketkeeper/batsman Joshua Da Silva, versatile all-rounder Jason Holder along with the consistency of Reifer and Blackwood, can make an impression, the batting may be a bit stauncher and it is needed against this quality bowling lineup.

South Africa’s bowling will be missing the services of Nortje who unfortunately picked up a groin injury and consequently ruled him out for this confrontation.

West Indies lost their premier spinner, the left-arm orthodox bowler Gudakesh Motie due to a lower-back injury just before the commencement of the series. He is likely to miss this crucial test as he is still recuperating. Apart from Roach, Joseph and Holder, pacer Shannon Gabriel must use his experience and maturity in an effort to lift the bowling significantly and try avoid the humiliation of a whitewash.