CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CMC):
West Indies were staring at defeat and another series loss in South Africa, after collapsing spectacularly in their second innings to set the hosts an elementary target for victory in the third and final Test at Newlands.
Resuming yesterday's penultimate day on 88 for two, West Indies surrendered their last eight wickets for only 127 runs, to crash to 215 all out in their second innings.
Set 124 to win, South Africa lost Alviro Petersen without scoring, bowled playing back to one from left-arm spinner, Sulieman Benn, which skidded through to be nine for one at the close.
On a dramatic day where only 48.2 overs were possible because of rain - which forced the abandonment of the first two sessions - West Indies seemed intent on rescuing the game when Marlon Samuels and Shiv Chanderpaul were involved in an 87-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Samuels top-scored with 74 and Chanderpaul scored exactly 50, but once Samuels holed out attempting one big shot too many, the last seven Windies wickets tumbled quickly for just 33 runs.
Off-spinner Simon Harmer, who Samuels had rendered virtually irrelevant, claimed four for 82, while fast bowler Dale Steyn supported with three for 75 and seamer Morne Morkel, two for 18.
Leon Johnson, unbeaten overnight on 37, added just seven but captain Denesh Ramdin perished for a first-ball 'duck'. The only other genuine front-line batsman, Jermaine Blackwood, fell for 13.
South Africa require only 115 runs for victory on today's final day to complete their seventh straight series win over the Windies and remain unbeaten against the tourists on home soil.
When play finally got underway at 3 p.m., South Africa did not have to wait long for their first success. Johnson never settled and sparred at the fifth ball of the day's third over from Morkel, to give captain Hashim Amla a regulation catch at first slip. Overall, he counted six fours off 76 balls in 112 minutes at the crease.
Samuels and Chanderpaul then injected hope into the Windies cause with a stand that consumed 28 overs and which put West Indies on the road to a possible recovery.
The right-handed Samuels, unbeaten on 26 at the start, faced 150 balls in 33/4 hours at the crease and registered nine fours and two sixes, while Chanderpaul was typically more sedate, gathering five boundaries off 113 deliveries in 203 minutes.
Again taking a liking to Harmer, Samuels cleared the ropes at long on with the bowler to move to 49 before arriving at his 21st half-century in Tests with a single off Steyn.
Samuels went after Harmer in the next over, the bowler's 12th, depositing him over long on for another six and off the next ball, lofting wide of midwicket for four.
Stifled thereafter and held to just four runs from 28 balls, Samuels tried to loose the chains and go over the top, but only succeeded in giving Dean Elgar a simple catch at mid-on off Harmer, with the score on 182 for four.
His wicket opened the floodgates. Seven overs later, Blackwood had his middle and off stumps rattled by one from Steyn that pitched and seamed, Ramdin followed off the first ball of Steyn's next over, clipping an innocuous delivery to Harmer at square leg.
Reeling at 204 for six, the Windies needed something special, but Jason Holder could not provide it, whipping Harmer to Amla at short-midwicket to fall for two.
Three balls later in the same over, Jerome Taylor senselessly holed out to midwicket without scoring and Steyn cleaned up Benn to a catch behind in the following over, also before the batsman could get off the mark.
Chanderpaul, without a significant score in the series, battled hard from the start but his innings ended shambolically when he was run out in a mix-up over a single with Shannon Gabriel.