Smith leads Proteas to victory in second Test

Published: Saturday, January 5, 2008, 22:41 [IST]
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Proteas beat Windies by 7 wickets

Cape Town: South African captain Graeme Smith blasted 85 off 79 balls to guide his team to a seven-wicket win on the fourth day of the second Test against the West Indies at Newlands Saturday.

Smith's innings enabled South Africa to square the series with one match to play.

Victory with a day to spare seemed unlikely after a heroic effort by West Indian skipper Chris Gayle extended his team's innings until tea and left South Africa needing 185 to win.

But Smith and AB de Villiers got the chase off to a flying start with an opening stand of 57 in nine overs and the tempo was maintained as Hashim Amla helped Smith add 83 in 17 overs for the second wicket.

Amla and Smith were out in successive overs to leg-spinner Rawl Lewis but Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince took South Africa home 3.2 overs into the final eight after the extra half hour was claimed to achieve a result.

Gayle batted with a broken left thumb and shared a last wicket partnership of 70 runs with Shivnarine Chanderpaul that kept the West Indies' hopes alive before Smith's assault.

Chanderpaul again stood firm for the tourists. He was unbeaten on 70 after batting for 299 minutes and facing 168 balls.

Gayle hit 38, with 37 of the runs coming off 29 balls in the last wicket stand before he was caught at long-on off Dale Steyn after hitting four fours and three sixes.

Gayle was struck on the thumb by a delivery from Andre Nel four balls into the first over of the day. After lengthy treatment on the field he retired hurt without adding to his overnight score of one.

X-rays showed he had a fractured thumb but he returned to the wicket when his side were nine down and only 114 runs ahead.

Gayle, batting with a runner because of a hamstring injury, swung powerfully whenever the ball was in his range although it was obvious he was in pain.

Chanderpaul, who had scarcely played an attacking stroke for most of his innings, started going for his shots as well and the pair needed only 53 balls for their partnership.

Chanderpaul made 64 not out in the first innings and batted for a total of 644 minutes in the match and faced 391 balls for his match total of 134 runs.

It was a frustrating day for the South Africans, who seemed set to wrap up the innings cheaply when Gayle's injury was followed by the dismissal of Dwayne Bravo for 12 and Rawl Lewis for one.

But Jerome Taylor was dropped by Smith at first slip off Makhaya Ntini when he had one and went on to make 21, while Fidel Edwards, like Gayle batting with a runner, made a career-best 21 in a ninth wicket stand of 25 with Chanderpaul.

Steyn, despite not being able to bowl at top speed because of a hamstring strain, took four for 44 while Nel took three for 62.

Smith and De Villiers were aggressive from the start of South Africa's chase. Smith was dropped by Marlon Samuels at point off Taylor when he had 18 but continued to attack, reaching his fifty off 41 balls.

Despite his injury, Gayle led his team onto the field and held slip catches off Lewis to dismiss both Amla and Smith. The first was a spectacular grab at the third attempt while he was lying on the ground and the second a sharp reflex take as the ball flew to his right off an edge from Smith.

South African opening batsman Neil McKenzie joined the match's growing casualty list when it was announced he had suffered a torn right calf muscle while fielding on Friday and would be out of action for between four and six weeks.

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