Cricket: Brathwaite, Samuels lead West Indies fightback

West Indies batsman Kraigg Brathwaite (right) plays a shot during the third day of the second cricket Test match between South Africa and the West Indies at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth on Dec 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
West Indies batsman Kraigg Brathwaite (right) plays a shot during the third day of the second cricket Test match between South Africa and the West Indies at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth on Dec 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (Reuters) - Half-centuries from Kraigg Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels steered a battling West Indies to 147 for two at the close on day three of the second test against South Africa on Sunday.

The tourists went through the final session at St George's Park, brought to an early finish by bad light, without losing a wicket as Brathwaite continued his excellent 2014 unbeaten on 65.

He has put on 92 for the third wicket with the more aggressive Samuels (60) after West Indies had been rocked by two wickets in as many balls just before the tea break.

They have moved the side closer to South Africa's first innings score of 417 for eight declared and will be confident of getting the additional 71 runs needed to avoid the follow-on.

Right-hander Brathwaite, 22, has scored 660 test runs this year at an average of 82.50 to showcase his rich potential.

Along with the more experienced Samuels, he displayed admirable application and patience, the only real scare for the pair a leg before wicket decision from Australian umpire Paul Reiffel that went against Samuels but was overturned on review for height.

That was off Morne Morkel, the pick of the South African bowlers in the innings after he dismissed Devon Smith (22) and Leon Johnson (0) in successive balls with the West Indies score on 55.

After striking Smith a sickening blow on the helmet, Morkel claimed his wicket - caught at first slip by Hashim Amla, while Johnson flashed at a ball that showed a hint of reverse-swing and was snapped up by Faf du Plessis at third slip for a golden duck.

But that was the last wicket for South Africa on the third day, which had started an hour late due to a wet outfield and was played for the most part in overcast conditions.

Morkel's figures of two for 24 do not tell the story of the fierceness of his spells, or the immaculate line he bowled and movement he generated with the ball.

Earlier, Dale Steyn bludgeoned his second test 50, and the fastest ever in Port Elizabeth, off 26 balls as he led the Proteas quickly past 400.

The world's best fast bowler was eventually dismissed two balls later for 58 in a sparkling innings that included five huge sixes.

South Africa won the first test in Pretoria by an innings and 220 runs, with the third and final match to start in Cape Town on Friday.