Chennai: Neil McKenzie hit a glorious 94 to lead South Africa's charge on the opening day of the first cricket Test against India here on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old, recalled to the South African side in January after three years in the wilderness, fell agonisingly short of his fourth Test century as the tourists went to tea on 206-2.
McKenzie and captain Graeme Smith put on 132 for the first wicket in their first outing since compiling a world record opening partnership of 415 against Bangladesh in Chittagong earlier this month.
The openers batted through the morning session to put on 109 by lunch at the Chidambaram stadium after Smith won the toss and took first strike on a placid wicket.
Smith made 73 when he lost his wicket against the run of play, on-driving Anil Kumble uppishly to short mid-wicket where Venkatsai Laxman moved to his right to take a smart catch.
Smith fell soon after he had slammed three boundaries in one over from seamer Shanthakumaran Sreesanth who, like his team-mates, struggled in the hot and humid weather.
Hashim Amla joined McKenzie to put on 64 for the second wicket, himself making a fluent 31 not out by tea.
Jacques Kallis was the other batsman at the crease on three.
McKenzie, who hit 18 boundaries, fell 10 minutes before tea when he edged off-spinner Harbhajan Singh to Rahul Dravid in the slips.
Smith and McKenzie dominated the Indian seam attack of Rudra Pratap Singh and Sreesanth in the morning bring up the half-century stand in 13 overs.
McKenzie opened his account by flicking Rudra Pratap to the square-leg fence, and took two more boundaries off the same bowler.
Smith cut Sreesanth to point and then slashed him over the slips before the seamer beat the South African captain twice outside the off-stump.
Kumble came on with his leg-spin in the 11th over, replacing Rudra Pratap who conceded 20 runs in his first five overs.
McKenzie welcomed Kumble with two fours in one over and then drove him through the covers for another boundary.
The tourists went in with three seamers and a lone specialist spinner in left-armer Paul Harris on a barren wicket expected to help slow bowlers later in the match.
India opted for two seamers and as many spinners, preferring to play seven batsmen in the first match of the three-Test series.