Smith steps up to the plate
Graeme Smith followed Michael Clarke’s lead with a captain’s innings of his own as South Africa launched a courageous fightback on day two of the second Test with Australia in Adelaide.
The Proteas came in for some astonishing punishment on the opening day, with Clarke’s unbeaten 224 guiding Australia to 482 for five in 86.5 overs.
However, Clarke added just six to his overnight total this morning as the hosts were dismissed for 550, despite a belligerent 35-ball 42 from James Pattinson.
Smith and Alviro Petersen then shared 138 in reply and South Africa’s skipper was still there at stumps, unbeaten on 111 in a total of 217 for two.
The only bowler to emerge from the day with any satisfaction was Morne Morkel, who removed Clarke, Matthew Wade and Ben Hilfenhaus to complete a five-wicket haul, albeit at the cost of 146 runs.
Clarke was bowled between bat and pad as he looked to play from the crease, while Wade made just six before edging behind on the drive.
Rory Kleinveldt then had Peter Siddle caught at slip for his maiden Test scalp and Australia lost a fourth wicket in quick succession when Hilfenhaus top-edged a pull to deep backward square.
It was left to Pattinson to keep South Africa in the field a little longer. The tailender twice cleared the ropes off the expensive Imran Tahir en route to his highest first-class score. He eventually nicked Steyn to slip, ending a 10th-wicket partnership of 46 - to which Nathan Lyon contributed just seven.
A more substantial alliance followed as Smith and Petersen combined to thwart Australia’s attack.
The captain was content to wait for the bad ball during a disciplined innings, although he was almost ousted by his opposite number for 46 when Matthew Wade missed a straightforward stumping opportunity.
South Africa took tea on 117 without loss, but the previously untroubled Petersen threw his wicket away on 54 with a lazy piece of running. After setting off for a single to mid-on, the right-hander almost ran into Smith and then opted to just drop his bat down over the crease in casual fashion; Michael Hussey’s direct hit ensured Petersen paid the price.
After Smith had successfully overturned a caught-behind decision that had initially gone in Pattinson’s favour, Australia’s other wicket came from an unlikely source as Hashim Amla danced down the track to David Warner’s occasional leg-spin to be stumped.
With Jacques Kallis hampered by a groin strain, South Africa sent in Jacques Rudolph at four and the former Yorkshire batsman was able to make it through to stumps with 25.
By that stage, Smith had brought up his 26th Test hundred. Intriguingly, he has yet to finish on the losing side when reaching three figures in the premier form of the game.