Finally one innings drew to a close in the first Test between South Africa and hosts, the West Indies, at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad. However, it was South Africa putting in the fight.
Rain played out much of day one of the Test and it was only after play got underway that South Africa found themselves in a perilous position at three down for seventy with both openers, Alviro Petersen, and the South African captain, Graeme Smith, joined by Hashim Amla back in the pavilion even as Shane Shilingford made a memorable debut, picking up two wickets on a rather curtailed day.
Day two brought little better tidings as South Africa found themselves slumped at five down for 107 with Jacques Kallis back, as Sulieman Benn joined Shillingford on the wicket board.
It took a great deal of skill, guts and perseverance that South Africa eventually managed to finish their first innings on a total like 352, which incidentally brought the play to a close on the second day.
Apart from the fifty-five run partnership for the opening wicket, South Africa’s next best partnership, and the one that really bailed them out, was the 122 run partnership for the sixth wicket between Ashwell Prince and AB de Villiers. Together they not only steadied the ship but also, brought about a sense of dignity for the proceedings for the visitors.
By the time Prince was dismissed for fifty-seven by the West Indies captain, Chris Gayle, who incidentally bowled just that one over, South Africa looked a lot better at six down for 229. AB departed not soon enough thereafter for sixty-eight runs and it took one more teasing partnership, one that no doubt frustrated the hosts, but gave South Africa the added bonus of eighty-six runs for the eighth wicket, between the unlikely pairing of Mark Boucher and the doughty batsman, Dale Steyn, who is developing a reputation for being a needle at the tail end of the order, irrespective of the runs he makes, which in this case were thirty-nine. Boucher himself made sixty-nine runs while helping the boat stay afloat.
The West Indies would not be too disappointed with their effort, with Shillingford having three wickets to show but more importantly, Sulieman Benn picking up a five wicket haul, plausibly putting the Benn-Gayle tiff behind them.