Maharaj hat-trick spins South Africa to series win in West Indies
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Keshav Maharaj completed just the second hat-trick by a South African in Test history as the Proteas completed a 158-run victory over the West Indies on the fourth day of the second Test of the two-match series at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia on Monday.
In the penultimate over before lunch the left-arm spinner removed Kieran Powell, Jason Holder and Joshua da Silva in successive deliveries to join fast bowler Geoff Griffen, who achieved the feat at Lord's in 1960, in the record books.
Following a comprehensive innings and 63-run victory inside three days in the first Test a week earlier at the same venue, the result gave South Africa the series 2-0, their first away series triumph since 2017 in New Zealand.
"This is huge for us because we haven’t won on the road for quite some time," said South African captain Dean Elgar.
"There will be teething years as captain but this is a good, important step on the way forward."
The home side began the day on 15 without loss looking at a victory target of 324. It was unlikely but given they had chased down 395 to beat Bangladesh in February, the West Indies were not without hope.
At least not until the 13th over by which stage Shai Hope had joined skipper Kraigg Brathwaite back in the pavilion, both dismissed by pace bowler Kagiso Rabada who then persuaded Kyle Mayers into an ugly hoick which spliced to Dean Elgar.
Maharaj then stole the headlines with his hat-trick to extinguish any fading West Indian hopes of an unlikely victory.
First, opening batsman Powell, who had looked composed and assured through most of his innings of 51, lost his head completely, hoisting Maharaj to deep midwicket where Anrich Nortje barely had to move in taking the catch just metres off the boundary rope.
Holder prodded at his first delivery for Keegan Petersen to take the sharp catch at short-leg and then Wiaan Mulder pulled off a superb snare low to his right at leg-slip when wicketkeeper-batsman da Silva attempted a leg-side glance to the hat-trick ball.
"I just decided to bowl normally and it was a brilliant catch by Wiaan," said Maharaj.
"I really didn’t know what to do after that because the excitement of the occasion overtook all of us."
Until the Maharaj intervention, South Africa had relied on the excellence of Rabada who bowled beautifully to remove Brathwaite, caught at slip by Elgar, and Hope who fended at a spiteful delivery angled into his body, a faint touch off his left glove carrying through to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
"My job is to bowl, but whenever we need some lower-order runs I try to contribute," said Rabada who also chipped in with 61 runs in this Test which contributed to him earning him the Player of the Match award.
Rabada was the most successful bowler in the series on either side with 11 wickets.
Roston Chase, hampered by a thigh strain sustained in the field on the third afternoon, did not bat.
"As a batting unit we let ourselves down but I must really commend the effort of the bowlers," said a dejected Brathwaite.
"We were going well but didn’t carry on. That hurt us. We know where we went wrong, including some technical stuff, so we have to work on that before the next series."
South Africa 1st Innings – 298
West Indies 1st Innings - 149
South Africa 2nd Innings - 174
West Indies 2nd Innings – overnight 15-0
K. Brathwaite c Elgar b Rabada 6
K. Powell c Nortje b Maharaj 51
S. Hope c Markram b Rabada 6
K. Mayers c Elgar b Rabada 34
J. Blackwood c de Kock b Ngidi 25
J. Holder c Petersen b Maharaj 0
J. da Silva c Mulder b Maharaj 0
K. Roach c Ngidi b Maharaj 27
J. Seales c Nortje b Maharaj 7
S. Gabriel not out 2
R. Chase absent hurt
Extras (b-4, lb-3, nb-2, w-2) 11
Total (58.3 overs, 9 wkts) 165
Fall of wickets: 1-16 (Brathwaite), 2-26 (Hope), 3-90 (Mayers), 4-107 (Powell), 5-107 (Holder), 6-107 (da Silva), 7-147 (Blackwood), 8-158 (Roach), 9-165 (Seales)
Bowling: K. Rabada 16-3-44-3 (2nb), L. Ngidi 10-2-29-1(1w), K. Maharaj 17.3-7-36-5, A. Nortje 11-3-35-0 (1w), W. Mulder 4-0-14-0
Result: South Africa won by 158 runs
Toss: West Indies
Umpires: Joel Wilson (WIS), Gregory Brathwaite (WIS)
Match Referee: Richie Richardson (WIS)