Smith, McKenzie pound Bangladesh

Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie put on a record opening stand as South Africa seized complete control of the second Test against Bangladesh on the opening day on Friday.

The South African skipper batted superbly for his unbeaten 223, his fourth double ton in Tests, while McKenzie also impressed with a career-best 169 not out.

Their stand was the best ever for the opening wicket for South Africa, surpassing the 368-run partnership between Smith and Herschelle Gibbs against Pakistan in Cape Town in 2003.

At the close, South Africa were cruising at 405 without loss on a placid track at the Chittagong Divisional Stadium.

Smith pounded the home side’s bowlers, striking 31 fours and a six, while McKenzie hit 20 fours and two sixes to cap a miserable day for the hosts.

The aggressive left-handed skipper, who reached his 200 with a cracking four past midwicket, also became the first South African to notch four double hundreds. Gary Kirsten scored three.

On a day of milestones, Smith also passed 5 000 runs in Test cricket, the fourth South African to do so.

This was Smith’s second double ton against Bangladesh after reaching the mark in 2002 in East London.

McKenzie reached his third Test century and first in seven years in style, dancing down the pitch to retiring left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique for a straight six over long on.

The Bangladesh bowlers toiled through the day without luck, with the pacemen erring in line too often and the spinners unable to extract any sort of turn from the placid track.

Smith started off tentatively, but opened up to play some enthralling cover drives after electing to bat in helpful conditions.

McKenzie, who offered solid support to his skipper from the other end, was dropped on 131 when Rafique failed to latch on to a tough chance off his own bowling.

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

South Africa won the opening Test in Dhaka by five wickets to go 1-0 up in the series.

The series will be followed by three one-dayers, with the first on March 9. — AFP



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Abhaya Srivastava
Abhaya Srivastava is Agence France Presses South Asia special correspondent.

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