Port Elizabeth: South African opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs dominated the first day of the second Test against India as he stroked an unbeaten 155 in a total of 237 for five at St Georges Park on Friday. South Africa were sent in on a green, well-grassed pitch and would have been in trouble if Gibbs had not continued in the sublime form which he has shown this season. It was the third Test century in five innings by Gibbs, 27, who made 147 and 74 in two Tests against Zimbabwe and 107 and one in South Africa's nine-wicket win in the first Test against India in Bloemfontein. India's decision to field first may have been motivated partly by concern at the damage that might have been done to their batting line-up by South Africa's pace attack. With off-spinner Harbhajan Singh recovered from a groin infection, India picked only two fast bowlers. Veteran Javagal Srinath bowled superbly to take three for 51 in 22 overs. Srinath raised Indian hopes when he struck in the seventh over when Gary Kirsten was out for four. Kirsten edged a drive against Srinath to third slip, where Virender Sehwag could not hold a sharp chance above his head. But Sehwag was able to knock the ball up and Venkatsai Laxman turned quickly to grab the ball before it went to ground. By then Gibbs had already hit three boundaries, two off Ajit Agarkar and one off Srinath. Joined by Jacques Kallis, Gibbs batted fluently and he hit nine boundaries as he reached his 50 off 87 balls. Kallis offered solid support in a second-wicket stand of 70 before Srinath made a ball snake back off the pitch in the last over before lunch and Kallis, playing defensively, edged it into his stumps. While Gibbs continued to bat with freedom during the afternoon his partners struggled. Neil McKenzie was bowled for 12 by off-spinner Harbhajan Singh when he was beaten by a flighted delivery as he tried to play an attacking stroke across the line. Then Boeta Dippenaar could score only 29 off 138 balls in a fourth wicket stand of 105 before he was caught behind off Agarkar in the second over with the second new ball. Dippenaar, whose place is under threat from in-form Jacques Rudolph, had difficulty timing the ball, especially against the off-spin of Harbhajan and leg- spin of Kumble. Just when it seemed he was finding his form, one ball after hitting a sweetly-timed square cut off Agarkar, Dippenaar drove at a full-length delivery and edged a catch to Deep Dasgupta. The uncapped Rudolph, 20, was left out of South Africas 12 as the host country opted for an unchanged team. Srinath took his third wicket when Laxman held a stinging catch at second slip when Lance Klusener slashed the ball hard at him. Gibbs reached his fifth Test century off 167 balls with 15 fours and by close of play had hit 21 fours and a six off 283 balls. His innings was characterised by fluent off-side driving off both the back and front foot. He reached 2000 runs in Tests when his score was 108. Harbhajan bowled unchanged throughout the afternoon session but it was mainly a containing action, despite picking up the wicket of McKenzie. Harbhajan, who missed the first Test because of a groin infection, returned to the Indian side together with fast bowler Agarkar. They were picked ahead of left-arm pace bowlers Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan.
| Copyright AFP 2001 |