West Indies abandoned their recently found discipline to crumble for their lowest-ever total against South Africa but debutant fast bowler Jayden Seales’s three-wicket burst thwarted the visitors’ reply, as 14 wickets tumbled on the opening day of the first Test here Thursday.
Bizarrely opting to bat first on a lively surface at the Daren Sammy National Stadium, the home side collapsed spectacularly for 97, 40 minutes before tea, with Lungi Ngidi claiming five for 19 and fellow fast bowler picking up four for 35.
West Indies were 48 for four at lunch and imploded further on resumption, losing their last six wickets for 49 runs, former captain Jason Holder the only batsman to get out of the teens with 20.
The total eclipsed the previous lowest of 102 in Port-of-Spain, on South Africa’s last tour of the Caribbean nearly 12 years ago.
Requiring a massive effort to remain in the contest, veteran seamer Kemar Roach then removed captain Dean Elgar with the fifth ball of the innings without a run on the board, before the 19-year-old Seales snatched the three remaining wickets, to leave South Africa stumbling slightly on 128 for four at stumps – a lead of 31 runs.
Aiden Markram top-scored with an attractive 60 while Rassie van der Dussen was unbeaten on 34 at the close, partnered by Quinton de Kock on four.
South Africa appeared cruising to the close on 113 for two but Seales, with only one first class match behind him, knocked over Markram and debutant Kyle Verreynne for six to end with three for 34, and stall their progress.
Heading into the series unbeaten this year in four Tests, West Indies started quietly if not confidently, as openers Kraigg Brathwaite (15) and Shai Hope (15) kept the probing South Africa seam attack at bay for almost the first hour.
Hope, dropped last year following a protracted run of poor form, made an unflattering return to the format, when he was squared up by a peach of a leg-cutter from Nortje and bowled off stump after 32 balls at the crease.
Brathwaite, short on runs during his recent stint for Gloucestershire in the County Championship, followed ten balls later with the score on 31, offering no stroke to one from Nortje which nipped back to rattle his stumps.
Nkrumah Bonner never settled after being struck on the helmet first ball by a quick, short ball from Nortje and eventually nicked an away-swinger from the impressive Kagiso Rabada behind, to depart for ten.
The right-hander was later diagnosed with concussion and ruled out of the match, with Kieran Powell called in as the replacement.
And left-hander Kyle Mayers (1), reprieved by DRS after being adjudged lbw in the penultimate over before lunch, survived only one other delivery before pulling injudiciously at a length ball and skying a catch to cover in the same over.
If West Indies were hoping for a resurgence after lunch they were disappointed as the turmoil continued after the interval, with three wickets falling in the space of eight balls.
Jermaine Blackwood, yet to score at the break, made one before steering Nortje to Keegan Petersen at gully in the third over following the resumption, and two wickets then fell in the next over to Ngidi with no runs added at 56, as the Caribbean slumped further.
First, Roston Chase played back and edged to Markram at second slip to be sixth out for one before Joshua Da Silva edged a forward defensive prod and was taken low down at third slip by Wiaan Mulder without scoring.
Rahkeem Cornwall holed out for 13 to short third man where Markram took a well-judged catch off Ngidi running back from the cordon before Roach nicked the same bowler behind for one in his next over.
Holder was last out after hitting three fours off 41 balls, perishing to a catch at second slip to give Ngidi his second career five-wicket haul.
The Windies hit back almost immediately when Blackwood dived to his left at third slip to pouch Elgar’s flirtation with a wide one from Roach, and debutant Petersen (19) handed Seales his first Test wicket when he edged a regulation catch to Holder at second slip in the second over after tea taken at 30 for one.
However, Markram and van der Dussen mounted a critical 79-run, third wicket stand to frustrate West Indies, until Seales’s return late in the day.
Markram faced 110 deliveries and struck seven fours while van der Dussen, wrongly adjudged lbw on five to Seales and reprieved by DRS, has counted three fours in a patient 104-ball knock.
But Seales broke the stand when he found Markram’s edge with an away-swinger – the first of two catches for wicketkeeper Da Silva as Verreynne slashed at a wide, short ball in Seales’s next over and also edged behind.