Smith leads South Africa to solid start in Bangladesh Test

Published: Friday, February 29, 2008, 15:22 [IST]
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Captain Graeme Smith struck an unbeaten century to put South Africa on course for a huge first innings total on the opening day of the second Test against Bangladesh here on Friday.

The left-handed opener batted superbly for his 133, which came off 152 balls and included some exquisite shots on either side of the wicket. He has hit 18 fours and a huge six off spinner Abdur Razzaq so far.

Neil McKenzie was providing his captain solid support from the other end, as South Africa cantered to 236 for no loss at tea.

McKenzie was five short of reaching his third Test century on a track that was fast turning out to be a nightmare for the bowlers. His 95-run knock included 13 fours and came off 193 balls.

The partnership between Smith and McKenzie was a record for the opening wicket for South Africa against Bangladesh. The previous best was 87 runs between Smith and Herschelle Gibbs at home in East London in 2002-03.

Smith reached his 14th Test hundred with a single off Shakib al Hasan and celebrated the occasion by punching the air and looking skywards.

He also crossed 5,000 runs in Test cricket, the fourth South African to do so, when he was on 86.

This was Smith's second ton against Bangladesh after having made a double-century in 2002, again in East London. The only other South African batsman to have scored two tons against Bangladesh was Gary Kirsten.

The hosts' bowlers toiled without luck, with the pacemen erring in line too often and spinners unable to extract any turn from the placid track.

Smith started off tentatively but opened up to play some enthralling cover drives for his 21st Test 50, after electing to bat at the Chittagong Divisional stadium.

McKenzie also looked set for a big knock after a disappointing show in the opener at Dhaka, which the visitors won by five wickets to go 1-0 up in the series.

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

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