A gallant unbeaten half-century from Kevin Sinclair stunned South Africa-A and propelled West Indies-A to a come-from-behind one-wicket victory, in a thrilling finish to the opening four-day “Test” in South Africa yesterday.
In pursuit of 224 after resuming the final morning at Willowmoore Park on eight without loss, West Indies-A crashed to 119 for seven just before tea, to look in danger of losing the contest and falling behind in the series.
The 24-year-old Sinclair entered at number seven to transform the run chase, however, carving out a superb unbeaten 80 to put the visitors over the line.
Displaying excellent temperament, he calmly put on 29 for the eighth wicket with Jayden Seales (12), 23 for the ninth with Shermon Lewis (2) before inspiring a nerve-wracking 53-run, unbroken last wicket stand with Jair McAllister who spent 34 balls over a crucial seven not out.
Sinclair, a compact right-hander with a first class average of 32, faced 150 deliveries in just over three hours at the crease and lashed eight fours and three sixes.
An ill-advised leg bye off the third delivery of the first over with the second new ball from pacer Tshepo Moreki (3-56) added to the drama, as it left McAllister with three balls to face at 222 for nine.
However, the 27-year-old sliced the next delivery to cover and sprinted a couple, to spark celebratory scenes in the West Indies-A camp.
Earlier, West Indies-A lost Zachary McCaskie in the morning’s second over after he had added just one to his overnight five, caught at the wicket off seamer Mihlali Mpongwana (3-25) with nine runs on the board.
His dismissal brought together Test rookie left-handers Kirk McKenzie (36) and Tagenarine Chanderpaul (35), the pair posting 66 for the second wicket.
McKenzie faced 70 balls and struck half-dozen fours while Chanderpaul counted another half-dozen fours in his 99-ball knock.
McKenzie top-edged a slog-sweep at off-spinner Dane Piedt (2-58) and was taken at short fine leg and Chanderpaul perished lbw to Mpongwana after adding a further 22 for the third wicket with Kavem Hodge (12), leading to a collapse which saw five wickets go down for 22 runs in quick time.
Tottering on 119 for seven when Akeem Jordan sparred at a wide delivery from Moreki and was taken behind, West Indies-A were then rescued by Sinclair’s heroics.
The second “Test” bowls off next Tuesday at Buffalo Park in East London. (CMC)