The first Test Temba Bavuma led, in which he scored two goals, is now a distant memory. As South Africa ended the third day in Johannesburg with a commanding 356-run advantage, Bavuma notched a brilliant 171 not out, his best Test score, in his second Test as captain.
The guests’ day didn’t get off to a good start. In the first hour, West Indies scored three times, with Kyle Mayers causing the most harm. The day’s first wicket, Dean Elgar, who directed a wide delivery from Mayers straight to gully, set the tone for the rest of the innings. In the same pitch, Mayers pounced again, this time bowling Tony de Zorzi off an inside edge. Near the end of the drinks period, West Indies added Aiden Markram to their list of casualties when Kemar Roach bowled a jaffa that straightened in the fourth stump path and nickered off Markram. West Indies had a complete morning thanks to Ryan Rickelton’s caught behind off Raymon Reifer, with the visitors scooping up four wickets and giving up only 65 runs in the opening session.
South Africa attempted a small comeback during the second session, largely thanks to Bavuma, who helped break the wicketless streak and pushed their advantage over 200. There wasn’t much assistance available for the bowlers, but West Indies stayed true to their clean lines and lengths and were repaid with Heinrich Klaasen’s dismissal. Klaasen flashed at a short ball from Alzarri Joseph and top-edged it behind, where Joshua Da Silva took an excellent diving catch. But because Bavuma and Wiaan Mulder worked together to create something unique, that was the only wicket to fall in the session.
In a 103-run stand for the sixth wicket with Bavuma, Mulder went on to score 42 off 71, his best Test total. At the other end, Bavuma found a delicate balance between offense and defense to reach fifty off 107 balls. Later that evening, he reached his hundred with a commanding drive over additional cover, a shot that his father in the stands properly admired. When Joseph defeated Mulder, West Indies eventually made a breakthrough, but it was not simple to remove Simon Harmer. Bavuma, the captain, scored the bulk of the runs in that partnership, and Harmer added 71 runs in 59 balls. Late in the day, Harmer was lbw by Jason Holder, but the harm had already been done. On the fourth morning, perhaps more will be waiting for West Indies with Bavuma still at the wicket.