South Africa 322 (de Kock 141*, Holder 4-75) lead West Indies 97 (Holder 20, Ngidi 5-19, Nortje 4-35) by 225 runsQuinton de Kock’s career-best took South Africa’s lead past 200 and put them in a commanding position in the St Lucia Test. In his first innings since being relieved of the captaincy, de Kock batted with freedom and assurance and ushered the tail, to take South Africa from 233 for 8 to their third total over 300 in their last nine Tests.This was de Kock’s sixth Test century, and the first since October 2019 when he scored 111 against India in Visakhapatnam. He also shared in the joint-highest partnership in the match so far, 79 runs for the ninth wicket with Anrich Nortje.Conditions had improved for batting from the first day and though there was early seam movement on offer, it lessened as the ball wore. West Indies’ attack was disciplined in the morning session but grew frustrated as de Kock kept them in the field and punctured the on-side primarily, where he scored 80 runs.He set the tone when he cut the first ball of the day, short and wide from Kemar Roach, through point for four and then drove the last ball of the over, full on middle, past mid-off for four more. It took West Indies five overs to find their rhythm, and they conceded 24 runs in that period, before Jayden Seales sent down the first maiden over of the day to start tightening the screws.Watch cricket on ESPN+
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Kraigg Brathwaite took that as his cue to introduce spin and brought on Roston Chase at the other end and in his second over, he almost got rid of de Kock, who missed a sweep and was hit on the pads. de Kock was given out lbw by Gregory Brathwaite but he reviewed and replays showed he gloved the ball onto his pad and the decision was overturned. de Kock was on 23 at the time.West Indies kept the pressure on and Chase and Jason Holder gave away just four runs in the next four overs before van der Dussen outside-edged to gully. The wicket was a reward for Holder’s persistent line outside off, which van der Dussen had approached watchfully until he was lured into playing at one.Holder and Chase bowled in tandem for another five overs before Brathwaite brought back Seales and Roach for a burst before lunch. Seales was particularly impressive and tested Wiaan Mulder with outswingers outside the off stump and induced the edge, but the chance fell short of Holder at second slip. Mulder made it to lunch but was dismissed in the third over after the break when he half-heartedly attempted a back-foot punch off Holder and was caught behind.de Kock brought up fifty in the over after that, with a push through the covers. He almost lost Keshav Maharaj five balls later when Rahkeem Cornwall reviewed for a catch at short leg but the ball ballooned up off the front pad. Cornwall didn’t have to wait long to get the same dismissal. Maharaj inside-edged the next ball he faced from Cornwall to concussion substitute Kieran Powell, who took a superb one-handed low catch.West Indies took the second new ball as soon as it became available and de Kock duly drove Roach for four. Kagiso Rabada was less convincing. He fended Seales over the slips for a boundary but edged Roach to Holder at second slip four balls later.It could easily have unravelled for South Africa from there and de Kock seemed to think so. He slogged Seales for four and then plundered two sixes off the next three balls to suggest he wanted to get big runs quickly. But Nortje hung tough and worked well to keep de Kock on strike, with the pair refusing singles more than taking them.de Kock smashed Kyle Mayers over square leg for a six to reach his century. Reaching the landmark freed de Kock up. He cleared the rope twice more against Cornwall, and then top-edged Holder to fine leg where Mayers took the catch, but Holder had overstepped. de Kock was on 118. To add insult to injury, de Kock went on to his highest score in Test cricket with a pull over deep square, off Holder.Holder had some cheer when Nortje lobbed a catch to Shai Hope at gully and Lungi Ngidi nicked off to give him a four-for. In between those dismissals, de Kock bashed him over extra cover for six, his seventh of the innings, the joint-most by a South Africa batter in Tests with AB de Villiers.South AfricaWest IndiesWest Indies vs South AfricaSouth Africa tour of West Indies
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent