Dale Steyn became South African cricket’s second highest wicket taker as West Indies reached 276 for six on the first day of the third Test in Cape Town.
Steyn caught and bowled captain Denesh Ramdin for 53 fiveovers from Friday’s close to claw back some of the advantage produced by a spirited West Indian batting performance in near perfect conditions at the iconic Newlands ground.
Ramdin looked to be vindicated in his decision to bat first as Leon Johnson, Devon Smith, Marlon Samuels and Jermaine Blackwood weighed in with runs before Steyn claimed his second wicket of the day.
The fast bowler moved past Makhaya Ntini on to 391 Test victims, now only behind Shaun Pollock in the list of South Africa’s all-time best bowlers.
Johnson top-scored for the tourists with 54 off 84 balls, surviving a review by a matter of millimetres when he padded up to an inswinging ball from Morne Morkel when on four.
“We showed the kind of fight that we have been talking about for some time now and are very happy with our position,” the 27-year-old told reporters.
“Batting was a bit challenging against the South African pace bowlers but as a team we’ve got to be happy that we’ve managed to bat through a full day of 90 overs. It is our best day of the series so far.”
Ramdin’s defiance of the much-vaunted home attack followed similar displays from team mates throughout the opening day.
Samuels was out for 43 after an injudicious shot saw him caught in the covers off part-time bowler Stiaan van Zyl, who claimed a first Test wicket.
Blackwood, recalled to the team, will resume on Saturday on 45 not out.
Steyn, who also had opener Kraigg Brathwaite caught for seven, was overshadowed by debutant Simon Harmer, who finished with figures of three for 67.
The off-spinnner bowled Smith for 47 on the stroke of lunch before having Johnson trapped lbw in the second session. Harmer also claimed the prized wicket of veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who slipped and was stumped for just nine.
Ramdin won the toss for a third time in the series but after opting to bowl first in the last two tests gambled on the wicket offering a chance for his team to put together a decent showing with the bat.
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 will ensure South Africa remain the top ranked nation.