Openers give South Africa a solid start

March 26th, 2008 - 2:18 pm ICT by admin  

By Anand Philar
Chennai, March 26 (IANS) South Africa took full advantage of winning the toss to post 109 without loss at lunch on the first day of the first Future Cup Test against India here Wednesday. Neil McKenzie, looking solid and composed, was on 54 and skipper Graeme Smith 53.

The South Africans enjoyed a steady start with the openers negotiating the new ball attack with fair degree of comfort if not authority.

McKenzie, in particular, was the more aggressive of the two, playing some spanking shots through covers and a particularly severe pull to midwicket.

Smith, on the other hand, survived some anxious moments, especially against Sreesanth who generated a fair bit of pace and movement off the seam as he exploited the natural angle across the left-handed batsman.

The South African skipper was beaten on the forward prod on a few occasions, but grew in assurance as his innings progressed and he scored a few boundaries through the vacant third man.

Of the Indian bowlers, Sreesanth looked the most impressive and was distinctly unlucky to miss the outside edges. Bowling with typical aggression, he tested the batsmen with a few short-pitched deliveries and was generally spot-on.

Rudra Pratap Singh bowled well within himself. He did not appear as menacing as Sreesanth and came in for a bit of stick from McKenzie.

Skipper Anil Kumble brought himself on for Rudra Pratap after 10 overs, but never really settled down to a length that troubled the batsmen.

At the other end, Sreesanth made way for Harbhajan after a six-over spell with the South Africans crossing the 50-run mark in 13 overs, scoring at four runs an over.

Harbhajan also made little impression on both batsmen who continued to score at a fair clip. Kumble, after sending down six overs for 22 runs, took himself off and brought back Rudra Pratap.

Meanwhile, McKenzie got to his 14th Test half-century and second against India with 11 boundaries while looking good for a big score.

The pair soon raised the 100 partnership in the 24th over with Smith driving Harbhajan to the straight boundary. In the final over before lunch, Smith reached his 21st Test half-century to end a profitable session for his team.

Earlier, South Africa won the toss and opted to bat on a pitch that was shorn of grass.

India, as expected, omitted Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan and Piyush Chawla while South Africa picked Paul Harris as the lone specialist spinner.

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