JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (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 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.
South Africa 1st Innings (overnight 311-7)
D Elgar c Chase b Motie 42
A Markram c Blackwood b Motie 96
T de Zorzi b Motie 85
*T Bavuma lbw b Holder 28
R Rickelton c wk Da Silva b Joseph 22
+H Klaasen c wk Da Silva b Mayers 17
W Mulder b Mayers 12
S Harmer c wk Da Silva b Mayers 1
K Maharaj c Motie b Joseph 1
G Coetzee c wk Da Silva b Joseph 1
K Rabada not out 6
Extras (lb5, w1, nb3) 9
TOTAL (all out, 92.2 overs) 320
Fall of wickets: 1-76, 2-192, 3-248, 4-278, 5-286, 6-309, 7-311, 8-312, 9-312.
Bowling: Roach 16-3-55-0 (nb2); Joseph 18.2-3-60-3; Mayers 9-0-32-3; Holder 16-5-39-1 (nb1); Motie 19-3-75-3; Chase 14-2-54-0.
West Indies 1st Innings
*K Brathwaite c Elgar b Rabada 17
T Chanderpaul run out 1
R Reifer c de Zorzi b Coetzee 15
J Blackwood c wk Klaasen b Coetzee 6
R Chase b Mulder 28
K Mayers c Elgar b Rabada 29
+J Da Silva b Harmer 26
J Holder not out 81
A Joseph c de Zorzi b Maharaj 4
K Roach c Elgar b Coetzee 13
G Motie c Bavuma b Harmer 17
Extras (b4, lb7, nb3) 14
TOTAL (all out, 79.1 overs) 251
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-22, 3-28, 4-51, 5-103, 6-116, 7-157, 8-162, 9-193.
Bowling: Rabada 12-5-19-2; Mulder 15-4-40-1; Coetzee 14-4-41-3; Harmer 17.3-2-63-2; Maharaj 21-4-77-1.
South Africa 2nd Innings
D Elgar not out 3
A Markram not out 1
TOTAL (without loss, 3 overs) 4
Bowling: Roach 1-0-2-0; Joseph 1-0-1-0; Holder 1-0-1-0.
Position: South Africa lead by 73 with all second innings wickets standing.
Umpires: Marais Erasmus, Paul Reiffel (Australia).
TV umpire: Kumar Dharmasena (Sri Lanka).
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka).
Reserve umpire: Adrian Holdstock.
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