Magnificent Maharaj revels in rare hat-trick for South Africa

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Sri Lanka v South Africa - Second Test Match - Colombo, Sri Lanka - July 20, 2018 - South Africa's Keshav Maharaj waves at fans after taking eight wickets on the first day. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

(Reuters) - Keshav Maharaj was too excited to come up with a celebration after becoming the first South African to claim a test hat-trick in 61 years as his side completed a 2-0 series sweep against West Indies with a 158-run victory in Saint Lucia on Monday.

The left-arm spinner picked up five wickets in West Indies' second innings but it was his hat-trick that will live long in the memory, especially as it came when the hosts were beginning to believe they could reach their 324-run victory target.

They had recovered to 107 for three after a poor start when Maharaj (5-36) claimed the scalp of the dangerous Kieran Powell (51), who tried to launch him to the midwicket boundary but picked out lone fielder Anrich Nortje.

All-rounder Jason Holder was caught by short-leg Keegan Petersen first ball, and Wiaan Mulder took an excellent diving catch low to his right at leg-slip off Joshua Da Silva to complete the hat-trick.

"Powell was looking to come at me and I just thought about putting the ball in the right area and it found Anrich on the boundary," Maharaj told reporters.

"The second one to Jason, I was trying to bowl a straight delivery and luckily it got an inside edge.

"The hat-trick ball I had so many things going through my head as to where to put the ball. In the end I just bowled it normally and Joshua followed it down leg and full credit to Wiaan for a great catch.

"I didn’t know what to do (to celebrate), I thought about doing a slide but ended up stopping dead in my tracks. There was too much excitement and adrenalin in me."

It was only the second test hat-trick for South Africa after seamer Geoff Griffin managed the feat against England at Lord's in 1960.

They completed a first away test series win in four years, which comes as they start a new era under recently appointed captain Dean Elgar.

"There are a lot of positives to take out of the match, but there are also obviously a lot of things we need to work on because there is always room for improvement," added Maharaj.

"But there is a good buzz in the change room and a sense of pride."

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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