Cape Town: West Indies opener Devon Smith hit a gutsy 47 before losing his wicket at the stroke of lunch on the opening morning of the third and final test against South Africa at Newlands on Friday.
Smith was bowled by debutant off-spinner Simon Harmer as West Indies reached 80 for two wickets at the break, having largely defied South Africa’s much-vaunted pace attack.
Leon Johnson, who survived a review by a matter of millimetres when he padded up to an inswinging ball from Morne Morkel when on four, moved onto 24 not out at lunch as he and Smith put on 50 runs for the second wicket.
Smith, whose test career has been notoriously inconsistent, undid all his good work against the quicks when he missed a deliver from the new South African spinner that clipped his middle stump to give Harmer a first test wicket.
It took South Africa until the 14th over to make the breakthrough despite a steady diet of uncomfortable pace bowling from Dale Steyn, Morkel and Vernon Philander that often had the batsmen flailing at difficult deliveries.
Kraigg Brathwaite went out to a thick edge, caught in the gully by Dean Elgar, as Steyn tied Makhaya Ntini as South Africa’s second highest wicket-taker with the 390th victim of his career.
The West Indies won the toss and elected to bat on a wicket expected to produce runs in sunny conditions at the picturesque ground, nested in the shadow of the imposing Table Mountain.
It was the third successive win of the toss for captain Denesh Ramdin, who had elected to bowl first in both of the first two tests last month.
South Africa won the first test in the three-match series by an innings and 220 runs in Pretoria but the second test in Port Elizabeth ended in a rain-affected draw.
A home series win would ensure South Africa remain the top ranked test-playing nation.