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Smith, McKenzie give South Africa solid start

Published: Wednesday, March 26, 2008, 12:50 [IST]
 
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CHENNAI:
Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie continued their brilliant form to hand South Africa an impressive start in the first cricket Test against India here on Wednesday.

The openers batted through the morning session of the first day to put on 109 by lunch at the Chidambaram stadium after Smith won the toss and took first strike on a placid wicket.

Smith was unbeaten on 53 and McKenzie was on 54 in their first outing since compiling a world record opening partnership of 415 against Bangladesh in Chittagong earlier this month.

McKenzie was the more aggressive of the two, smashing 11 boundaries to his captain's eight as the Indian bowlers struggled in the hot and humid weather.

The duo flayed the Indian seam attack of Rudra Pratap Singh and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth to 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.

Indian captain Anil 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.

Off-spinner Harbhajan, who replaced Sreesanth, has already given away 29 runs in six overs.

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.

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