Smith steers SA forward

Graeme Smith’s 132 on day one of the second Test led the Proteas to 296-3, firmly in command of early proceedings over a toothless West Indian bowling attack.

Valuable contributions from Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and poor catching from the home side aided Smith’s charge, and cleared the path toward a big first innings total for the Proteas. Smith did not allow himself to get bogged down and managed to keep the scoreboard moving with singles and twos. A one dimensional seam attack did nothing to aid the hosts’ cause – Smith allowed to settle in early, Petersen leading in the opening session with the captain coming to the fore from there on.

Petersen had an answer for everything – pulling short balls, dispatching the full with fluent drives, using his feet against the spinners. Only a fine catch by Kemar Roach, running forward from long leg, ended his innings on 52, leaving him lamenting what may have been – he looked to have thrown away a century.

Shane Shillingford tucked Smith up on a few occasions with his round-the-wicket line, but with the West Indian seamers not taking this hint to adjust their line of attack, but Smith showed a patience absent of late, focusing more on steady accumulation than bludgeoning his way from trouble. But aggression was not absent; he belted Narsingh Deonarine for consecutive sixes over long-on (taking him past 7000 Test runs).

The West Indies squandered numerous chances to end Proteas partnerships – Smith put down twice on his way to his 21st century – Shivnarine Chanderpaul dropping a lofted sweep at square leg (Smith on 79) and Denesh Ramdin’s failing to glove a thin edge from Shillingford (Smith on 112). Amla, who added 112 with Smith for the second wicket, also had his chances; let off on 14 when a thick outside edge sailed past Chris Gayle.

Shillinford toiled, unafraid to flight the ball in full. He got the wicket of Amla (44), edging to slip before tea. Perhaps his sporadic inroads contributed to the West Indies’ rejection of the new ball, despite Roach coming on for a new spell. Despite this, Roach managed to get the crucial wicket of Smith, dragging one onto his stumps for a tame end to a captain’s knock.

South Africa had the well-set Kallis at the crease at the end, with AB de Villiers for company. Kallis had set off in fifth gear, scoring his first 22 runs off just 16 balls, but as the final session wore on, he struggled to pick the gaps. At stumps, the Proteas sit in a commanding position, and must be eyeing a mammoth first innings total.

South Africa (first innings) 296-3
Graeme Smith 132, Alviro Peterson 52, Shane Shillingford 2-91.

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