Graeme Smith scores ton in 100th match

Jul 22, 2012, 07:52 IST | AFP

South Africa were 403 for two in reply to England's first innings 385, a lead of 18 runs, at stumps on the third day of the first Test at The Oval here on Saturday.

Hashim Amla was 183 not out and Jacques Kallis 82 not out after South Africa captain Graeme Smith made a hundred in his 100th Test before falling for 131.

Graeme Smith celebrates his century at the Oval on Saturday. Pic/AFP

If South Africa win the series they will replace England at the top of the International Cricket Council's Test rankings. Smith was eventually dismissed for 131 while Amla carried the momemtum till stumps. South Africa were 277 for two at tea, 108 runs behind England’s first innings total of 385. Smith and Amla (131 not out) put on 259 for the second wicket before Smith was bowled off an inside edge, pushing defensively at Tim Bresnan. It was a record second wicket stand for South Africa against England, beating by two runs the mark set by Smith and current coach Gary Kirsten at Lord’s in 2003.

Dry pitch
On a dry pitch, already offering variable bounce and turn for the spinners, Smith and Amla dug in and played risk-free cricket to grind down England’s bowling attack. The pair had to work hard in the first hour against the combination of fast bowler James Anderson and off-spinner Graeme Swann. It took Smith 160 balls to reach his fifty. But the scoring rate picked up markedly, with Swann conceding 21 runs in two overs either side of drinks.

Smith unleashed a flurry of boundaries in the next hour and needed just 41 deliveries to notch his second half-century.  Amla, meanwhile, reached his 15th Test century off 199 balls with 13 fours. He had faced 261 balls by tea, hitting 17 fours. Smith became the seventh player to score a century in his 100th Test, joining Colin Cowdrey, Javed Miandad, Gordon Greenidge, Alec Stewart, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Ricky Ponting. It was his seventh century against England and his fifth in England.  

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