At St John's, April 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. South Africa won by 82 runs. Toss: West Indies. Test debut: N. C. McGarrell.
South Africa claimed the series and the new Sir Vivian Richards Trophy just before tea on the last day. Whereas the victors had fought back from difficult positions in both innings, only Lara could respond for West Indies, and his blazing second-innings 91 was too little and too late.
The assertion of the chief groundsman, Keith Frederick, that "as a true West Indian" he had prepared a spinners' pitch indicated a change of priorities. Once, such a statement would have been seditious; now, it prompted the introduction of Neil McGarrell, the 28-year-old Guyanese slow left-armer, alongside leg-spinner Ramnarine. That reduced the attack to two fast bowlers for the first time since the Packer schism of 1977-78. The selectors also replaced Samuels with the experienced Chanderpaul, while South Africa made one enforced change, Kemp replacing the injured Donald.
Hooper's decision to bowl first - rather than offering his spinners the chance of a fourth-innings pitch - seemed to defy logic, but was no longer questioned when South Africa were 152 for seven at tea, six of the wickets falling to spin. McGarrell claimed four, including a spell of three for seven in 23 balls. Only Gibbs, whose 85 included two sixes and 12 fours, had batted with conviction, and when he was seventh out, to Jacobs's tumbling catch from a gloved sweep off Hooper, West Indies held the initiative. However, the consistent Pollock and Boje regrouped, adding 75 before Walsh gained an lbw decision against Boje next morning. The value of their stand, and of Pollock's unbeaten innings after four hours of defiance, was clear when West Indies collapsed for 140 against South Africa's varied attack. Their last four wickets went for ten runs in 13.1 overs on the third morning, and their troubles worsened when they took the field again. Dillon went off after bowling three balls, having sprained his right thumb in a collision with Lara.
Kirsten failed again, but Gibbs and McKenzie put on 78 for the second wicket as West Indies, 107 behind on first innings, were reduced to defensive tactics. By the close, South Africa had extended their lead to 229 with seven wickets remaining, a strong position on a dry, unpredictable pitch. The West Indians came back into contention by taking four for 34 in the first 17 overs on the fourth morning, with the indomitable Walsh claiming three of those. Moreover, he would have had another if Gayle had held Kallis, then two, at slip. It proved a crucial miss: Kallis and Pollock carefully restored the balance with an unbroken partnership of 59 that allowed Pollock to declare, giving his bowlers a minimum of 131 overs to complete the job while challenging the West Indians to score 323 to level the series.
With Boje and Klusener coaxing sharp turn from the dry pitch in their contrasting styles, batting was difficult. By the close, West Indies were already four down. Lara and Sarwan kept the South Africans at bay for most of the final morning, but Pollock's decision to take over from Klusener virtually settled the issue. He dismissed Sarwan and Jacobs in his third over of the spell and, after lunch, McGarrell in the ninth. That sparked a thrilling onslaught of 61 in 84 balls from Lara, who hoisted four leg-side sixes off Boje - visibly furious when a top-edged sweep was dropped by Ntini. Lara had repeatedly shown that, in such a mood, nothing was beyond him. But this time his threat was ended by the new ball; he mistimed a drive off Kallis and was caught at extra cover. Eleven balls later, Ramnarine sliced Kallis to gully, and South Africa had become only the second team in 28 years, after Australia in 1994-95, to win a Test series in the Caribbean.
Man of the Match: S. M. Pollock.