Openers eye world record as South Africa pound Bangladesh

Published: Friday, February 29, 2008, 22:59 [IST]
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Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie put on a record opening stand as South Africa seized complete control of the second Test against Bangladesh on the opening day here on Friday.

The South African skipper batted superbly for his unbeaten 223, his fourth double ton in Tests, while McKenzie also impressed with a career-best 169.

Their stand was the best ever for the opening wicket for South Africa, surpassing the 368-run partnership between Smith and Herschelle Gibbs against Pakistan in Cape Town in 2003.

At the close, South Africa were cruising at 405 without loss on a placid track at the Chittagong Divisional stadium.

The South African pair are now within nine runs of setting a new world record for an opening stand.

India's Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy put on 413 for the first wicket against New Zealand at Chennai in 1956.

Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid smashed the second highest score of 410 against Pakistan in 2006 at Lahore.

Smith pounded the home side's bowlers, striking 31 fours and a six, while McKenzie hit 20 fours and two sixes to cap a miserable day for the hosts.

The aggressive left-handed skipper, who reached his 200 with a cracking four past midwicket, also became the first South African to notch four double hundreds. Gary Kirsten scored three.

On a day of milestones, Smith also passed 5,000 runs in Test cricket, the fourth South African to do so.

McKenzie reached his third Test century and first in seven years in style, dancing down the pitch to retiring left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique for a straight six over long on.

The Bangladesh bowlers toiled through the day without luck, with the pacemen erring in line too often and the spinners unable to extract any sort of turn from the placid track.

Smith said he had to really concentrate throughout the day as there was a chance of getting carried away.

"I have got quite a few double hundreds now, so I know how tough it is to get there. You have to concentrate really hard all the way through."

"The wicket played really well. It had a lot more carry than the earlier one (in Dhaka). Once you get in, it is all about making every run count."

Bangladesh paceman Shahadat Hossain was all praise for the way the South African openers exploited the conditions.

"There was nothing in the wicket for the bowlers. They batted brilliantly throughout the day and did not give us any chances.

"Although we tried very hard, it was simply not our day. Nothing worked for us. We will have to start afresh tomorrow," said Hossain who finished wicketless while giving away 56 runs from 12 overs.

Smith started off tentatively but opened up to play some enthralling cover drives after electing to bat in helpful conditions.

McKenzie, who offered solid support to his skipper from the other end, was dropped on 131 when Rafique failed to latch on to a tough chance off his own bowling.

Smith was leading the side in a national record 54th Test, surpassing the mark of the late Hansie Cronje. He made his debut as Test captain in this port city in 2003.

South Africa won the opening Test in Dhaka by five wickets to go 1-0 up in the series.

The series will be followed by three one-dayers, with the first beginning here on March 9 and the remaining two in Dhaka on March 12 and 14.

South Africa 1st innings:

N. McKenzie not out 169

G. Smith not out 223

Extras: (b6, lb5, nb2) 13

Total: (for no loss) 405

Bowling: Mortaza 17-3-73-0, Hossain 19-1-90-0 (nb2), Rafique 23-3-84-0, Razzaq 15-0-76-0, Shakib 10-3-33-0, Ashraful 3-0-20-0, Ahmed 5-0-18-0.

Overs: 90

Toss: South AfricaUmpires: Aleem Dar (PAK), Steve Bucknor (WIS)TV Umpire: Nadir Shah (BAN)Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)

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