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Smith, Gibbs share record in SA spree

Smith, Gibbs became the first pair to share three triple-century Test partnerships by putting West Indies to the sword on the first day of the final Test.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2004 02:12 IST

South Africa openers Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs became the first pair to share three triple-century Test partnerships by putting West Indies to the sword on the first day of the fourth and final Test on Friday.

Smith and Gibbs piled on 301 for the first wicket as South Africa, who batted first after losing the toss, reached 302 for one when bad light ended play 22.5 overs early. The hosts lead the series 2-0.

The partnership was the 10th of more than 300 for the first wicket in Test cricket history. Smith and Gibbs shared 368 against Pakistan in Cape Town last January, and added 338 against England in Birmingham in July.

Although South Africa's openers dominated the opening day, they both agreed that batting had been no easy task on the Centurion pitch.

"We're 302 for one, but I don't think the wicket is that good," Smith told reporters. "It got a little bit up and down, a couple of balls stayed low.

"It might be a blessing in disguise that we've batted well on day one.

"This is the wicket with the most in it this series, and the cracks are making it a little bit up and down. I thought it was going to be a 280 to 300 wicket," added Smith.

"I scored quickly, but I felt like I had to work hard all day. You would hit a four, but you couldn't get momentum going."

Smith, who scored 139 in five hours at the crease, reached his sixth Test century an hour after lunch off 125 balls.

CLEAR INTENTIONS

The South African captain made his intentions clear from the first ball of the match, cutting paceman Mervyn Dillon through the gully for four.

He, along with Gibbs, carved West Indies' toothless attack to all parts before he fell three balls before the early close, caught behind after pushing at a delivery from Corey Collymore.

Gibbs, who was less fluent than Smith, was 139 not out at the close. He has batted for five hours, faced 229 balls and hit 18 fours and two sixes.

"You don't get a lot of balls to hit on this type of wicket," said Gibbs. "It's a matter of survival."

West Indies struggled to maintain a consistently threatening line and length throughout the day.

Fast bowler Fidel Edwards obtained swing through the air and movement off the seam, and had an appeal against Smith turned down because the ball struck his pad just outside the line of off-stump.

Smith might also have been run out for 23 in the 12th over with the total on 54 after he was stranded midway down the pitch.

But Ramnaresh Sarwan, fielding at point, wasted time by running with the ball before delivering a limp throw that sailed over the stumps.

South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Rudolph, Jacques Kallis, Gary Kirsten, Neil McKenzie, Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock, Andrew Hall, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel.

West Indies: Chris Gayle, Daren Ganga, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Brian Lara (captain), Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dwayne Smith, Ridley Jacobs, Vasbert Drakes, Mervyn Dillon, Fidel Edwards, Corey Collymore.

Umpires: Srinivas Venkataraghavan, India, and David Shepherd, England.

TV umpire: Brian Jerling, South Africa.

Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle, Sri Lanka.

First Published: Jan 16, 2004 15:51 IST