SA in West Indies
Smith makes Windies pay
St Kitts - Graeme Smith punished the West Indies on a pitch as flat as a tar road as his commanding century took South Africa to 296 for three after the first day of the second Test at Warner Park in Basseterre on Friday.
Smith reached 7000 Test runs on his way to 132, socking nine fours and three sixes off 238 balls. Having won an important toss on a pitch that was great for batting, it was Smith who rammed home the advantage with a typically dominating innings by the big left-hander.
The West Indies were left dumbfounded as their fielders - dropping three catches - did not support their toiling bowlers.
Alviro Petersen began the torment for the home side, finding the gaps with fluent strokeplay as he cruised to 52 off 70 balls, with three fours and two sixes, putting on 99 for the first wicket with Smith.
Hashim Amla had to work hard, in contrast, for his 44 but he shared the most telling partnership of the day with Smith - 112 for the second wicket. His dismissal left South Africa on 211 for two, and Jacques Kallis then came in and piled on the misery as he breezed to 45 not out at stumps, with three fours and a six.
Smith eventually fell in the final hour, bottom-edging a pull off Kemar Roach into his stumps, but when he watches the video of his dismissal he will perhaps reflect that he should not have been aiming through midwicket to a ball that was well outside off stump and angling further away.
Smith had been dropped on 112 as off-spinner Shane Shillingford spun a delivery sharply across his bat, finding the edge, but wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin couldn't hold on, and was also missed on 79 by a leaping Shivnarine Chanderpaul at square-leg off the same bowler.
Kallis and AB de Villiers (7*) then took South Africa through to stumps and the end of a thoroughly satisfying day for the visitors.
Smith's century had silenced the West Indies popguns as he steered South Africa to 237 for two at tea.
Smith reached the interval on 106 not out, as the West Indies, toiling on a flat pitch, made life harder for themselves with a hamfisted fielding effort: Amla was dropped by Chris Gayle at first slip off Kemar Roach on 14, and Chanderpaul missed Smith on 79 at square-leg off Shane Shillingford.
The West Indian bowlers, barring Shillingford, also lacked consistency and the two batsmen dismissed - Petersen for 52 and Amla for 44 - will be kicking themselves for not cashing in like Smith did.
The captain led from the front as he set out his stall for a big innings. When Smith struggles to drive the ball straight or through the covers, it is a sign that he is uncertain at the crease, but on Friday he hit four drives for four and all three of his sixes were lofted straight drives as he also used his feet to the spinners very well.
A major milestone was reached during his innings as Smith became just the third South African to score 7 000 test runs and a top-class century - his 21st - followed soon afterwards when a scruffy little sweep off Narsingh Deonarine brought three runs after three-and-a-half hours at the crease.
Fellow opener Petersen was off with a bang and cruised to a 65-ball half-century before a loose stroke, top-edging a sweep, gave Shillingford a soft wicket, Roach taking a fine catch running in from the boundary and diving forward at deep backward square-leg.
Shillingford's dismissal of Amla, however, was down to a top-class piece of bowling. Amla had been hesitant against the off-spinner throughout his innings and made several awkward attempts to sweep him (and even reverse-sweep him once). The KwaZulu-Natalian eventually edged a top-spinner (going straight on) to provide Dwayne Bravo with a low catch at slip.
Jacques Kallis set off like a house on fire, racing to 22 not out off 19 balls by tea, and was especially severe on left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, hitting him for two fours and a six.
Shillingford finished with two for 91 in 31 overs, while fast bowler Roach recovered from a poor opening spell to take one for 45 in 14 overs. Teams West Indies
- Chris Gayle (capt), Travis Dowlin, Brendan Nash, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Shane Shillingford, Sulieman Benn, Kemar Roach, Ravi Rampaul. South Africa
- Graeme Smith (capt), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher (wk), Dale Steyn, Paul Harris, Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.