Harmer shines on debut to blunt Windies


The West Indies reached stumps on day one of the Third Test at Newlands on 276 for six, with South Africa's debutant spinner Simon Harmer doing the surprise damage on a normally pacey pitch.

Harmer was picked instead of leggie Imran Tahir, and the Warriors off-spinner made the most of his first day in Test whites, taking three wickets to end partnerships before they could progress too far.

The Windies won the toss and opted to bat, an odd choice considering the venue but the right one it seemed, as Hashim Amla said he would have wanted to bat on the neatly trimmed deck as well.

Despite getting some early movement, the pacemen could not do much damage as quickly as they'd have liked. Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander got good swing, while Morne Morkel was even quicker than usual, but it took 13 overs and 30 runs to get the breakthrough.

Steyn was the one to break the resistance, with Kraigg Brathwaite out for seven after edging a wider delivery to Dean Elgar at gully. He had faced 35 balls and did not look like the man who scored a ton in PE.

The Proteas had to wait another 13 overs an 50 more runs for their next wicket, as Devon Smith and Leon Johnson consolidated. It was Harmer who struck on the stroke of lunch, with Smith trying to cut too close to his body and finding his off stump bail removed. He'd made 47.

Johnson reached his half century in the afternoon as he and Marlon Samuels put on 51 runs together. But Harmer struck again just as the stand started to look dangerous, trapping Johnson plumb in front.

Samuels looked good on his way to the 40s, some odd shots notwithstanding, but was eventually out in the softest of ways. Stiaan van Zyl was tasked to send down his slow dibbly-dobblies, and the first ball, wide and short, provided the result. Samuels hit it right to Faf du Plessis on the off side for the easiest of catches.

This left Jermaine Blackwood and Shivnarine Chanderpaul to start the rebuild again, and the veteran batsman looked out of sorts for many of the 48 balls he faced. His wide, front-on stance seemed eve more pronounced, as he battled his way to nine.

He was unable to reach double figures as Harmer struck again after tea. Chanderpaul missed the delivery, and AB de Villiers was on hand to affect the stumping.

There was a valiant recovery though, as Blackwood and Denesh Ramdin buckled down for the rest of the final session. They took the score from 172 for five to 266 for six before Ramdin fell to the new ball.

Steyn was the man to get the breakthrough with the partnership just six runs short of a century. It was a simple caught and bowled for he paceman as Ramdin was aiming for the leg side and got a leading edge. He's made 53.

Blackwood continued for the final few overs with Jason Holder at the other end, and the pair were on 45 and five respectively at the close.