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Proteas rally to 352 despite Benn's five wickets

Half-centuries from Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, and Ashwell Prince trumped a penetrative, marathon spell of spin bowling from Sulieman Benn to put South Africa in a favourable position in the opening Test against West Indies.

cricket Updated: Jun 12, 2010 16:00 IST

Half-centuries from Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, and Ashwell Prince trumped a penetrative, marathon spell of spin bowling from Sulieman Benn to put South Africa in a favourable position in the opening Test against West Indies.

Boucher missed most of the preceding limited-overs matches, but he got his groove back in the top score of 69, de Villiers supported with 68, and Prince made 57, as the South Africans were dismissed for 352 in their first innings about 10 minutes before the scheduled close on the second day at Queen's Park Oval yesterday.

"I think we played pretty well," said de Villiers. "We realized after the first day, the pitch was taking a lot of turn, and quite slow, and it was not easy batting in the first session.

"I am really proud of our effort. We strung good partnerships together, and we got the team out of trouble."

He added: "All in all, it was a good day for us. We would have been happy with 300, but we got 352, and so we will need to come on the third day and pick up some early wickets to put West Indies under pressure."

The Proteas' batsmen battled hard to get on top of the West Indies' spin bowlers in particular, but Benn, gaining generous turn and bounce from the pitch, was the pick of the home team's bowlers with five wickets for 120 runs from 47 overs.

Test newcomer Shane Shillingford supported Benn, when he collected three for 96 from 34 overs with his off-spin.

"It is nice to be playing Test cricket again, and this is my first Test at Queen's Park Oval, which has a reputation of being home of spin bowling in the Caribbean," said Benn.

"It is nice to know that I was able to perform here. The pitch started out really ideal for spin bowling, but it flattened out, so you had to put in some extra work. I guess being patient, and bowling good lines and lengths, paid off for me in the end."