Marlon Samuels played one big shot too many and opened the way for a West Indian collapse on the fourth day of the third and final Test against South Africa at Newlands on Monday.
The West Indies crashed from 182 for three to 215 all out, losing seven wickets for 33 runs in 15 overs.
South Africa were left needing 124 to win. They were nine for one at the close after Alviro Petersen was bowled by Suleiman Benn in the last over of an extended afternoon’s play, following a lengthy rain delay.
Samuels made 74, sharing partnerships of 68 with Leon Johnson (44) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (50) before holing out to long-on against off-spinner Simon Harmer.
West Indian coach Stuart Williams was scathing.
“That’s the moment in the game when everything fell away. We were building nicely. It was an awful shot,” he said.
“These are senior players. This is international cricket and you have to seize the moment. You have to respect the opposition at all times and we didn’t do that well today.”
Samuels, who said after making a century in the second Test in Port Elizabeth that he didn’t like to be dominated by spin bowlers, was highly aggressive against the debutant Harmer.
He faced 150 balls in making his 74 but hit 46 off 47 deliveries from the off-spinner. The assault included two sixes, one of them over a fielder at long-on.
But South African captain Hashim Amla persisted with Harmer, who switched ends. Samuels went down the pitch and hit the ball high towards long-on. The ball held up just enough into the wind for Dean Elgar to make a good running catch close to the boundary.
“Harmy bowled beautifully for the whole Test match,” said fast bowler Morne Morkel, who took two for 18.
“Although Marlon took him on, Hash made a great call for him to switch ends so he had a bit more rough to work with.
“We knew that if we could get the big wicket of Marlon, with the ball tailing (with reverse swing) we could really be in the game.”
The breakthrough achieved, Amla brought back Dale Steyn, who produced a superb spell of fast reverse swing bowling. He bowled Jermaine Blackwood with a ball which swung in and then straightened to hit the off stump, and had Denesh Ramdin caught at square leg.
Harmer picked up two more wickets, with Jason Holder chipping to midwicket and Jerome Taylor hitting recklessly to deep midwicket.
Steyn had Benn caught behind and Chanderpaul was run out by a direct hit from Temba Bavuma at backward point to complete a disastrous late afternoon for the tourists on a day when rain threatened to prevent any play.
Rain fell from early morning and continued until after lunch. But the weather cleared and play resumed at 3pm South African time, with a potential 53 overs to be bowled, all in one session. As it was, play stretched until 7pm.
Steyn finished with three for 75, while Harmer completed a highly successful debut with four for 82. Both bowlers had match figures of seven for 153.
Morkel said the late collapse was a reward for the way the South African bowlers stuck to their task despite the weather delay and some frustrating moments.
“A lot of teams might just go through the motions. This is why we’re the number one bowling unit in the world,” he said.
Petersen went back on his stumps and was bowled by a ball which skidded through, giving the West Indies a glimmer of hope.
“It’s a Test match, the fifth day and they still have to get 115 runs. We have to go and fight,” said Williams.