JOHANNESBURG (AP) — New South Africa captain Temba Bavuma ended a seven-year wait for his second test century and his 171 not out against West Indies put his team in a series-winning position in the second test on Friday.
Bavuma’s first hundred since his debut century at his home ground in Cape Town in 2016 powered the Proteas to a 356-run lead with three wickets in hand at the end of day three at the Wanderers.
South Africa was 287-7 in its second innings at stumps and on course to sweep the series 2-0.
Bavuma was the center of attention when he was chosen to replace Dean Elgar as captain shortly before this series in a surprise move. He was under even more scrutiny when he made a pair of ducks in the first test, his debut match as captain.
But he rescued his team on Friday and almost single-handedly led it to its match-winning position. He hit 20 fours and his dominating score came off 275 balls at a strike rate of over 60.
The West Indies had South Africa under pressure at 103-5 when Alzarri Joseph (2-49) forced out Heinrich Klassen with a fast, short ball.
But Bavuma finally found support from tailenders Wiaan Mulder (42) and Simon Harmer (19). The new skipper was the driving force in a 103-run partnership with Mulder and a 71-run stand with Harmer that took South Africa into a huge lead.
Bavuma scored 60 runs off 89 balls in the stand with Mulder and 51 off 70 when batting with Harmer as he kept attacking and, while Joseph dismissed Mulder and Jason Holder got Harmer out, Bavuma was unmoved and has a double century in his sights on the fourth day.
The match situation at the end of the third day, with South Africa in total control, was starkly different to the start, when the West Indians rolled through South Africa’s top order and appeared on course to bowl it out cheaply.
Kyle Mayers (2-25) struck in the first over of the day, just as he did on day two, to dismiss Elgar for 5. Mayers also bowled Tony de Zorzi for 1 soon after and Kemar Roach claimed the prize wicket of Aiden Markram for 18. South Africa was 32-3 at that point.
Ryan Rickelton (10) and Klaasen (14) also fell before Bavuma seized control of the test with a career-best performance and finally provided a compelling reply to critics who have questioned his place in the team.