Dubai - Proteas skipper Graeme Smith completed 9 000 runs in Test cricket during his double hundred against Pakistan in the second Test in Dubai on Thursday, three months after being on crutches due to ankle surgery.
Pak v SA Day 2 as it happened
The 32-year-old left-hander hit a memorable 227 not out to steer South Africa to a commanding 460-4 after the second day in Dubai, for an overall lead of 361 in the must-win game.He shared an all-time South African record for a fifth wicket partnership of 326 with AB de Villiers, who was unbeaten on 157.
"My ankle held up very well and I am very grateful," said Smith, who also reached 9 000 runs in 112 Tests.
"I put in a lot of hard work over the period since I came off crutches. It was a big surgery and there were a lot of times when you think how it's gonna hold and how it's gonna be handled, and I think it paid off today."
Smith put the second Test turn-around, after losing the first Test by seven wickets in Abu Dhabi, down to good planning.
"We got two low totals in that game so you have to improve. I back our batting unit 90 percent of the time do produce the goods and it's nice to get this far here," said Smith.
South Africa were bowled out for 249 and 232 in Abu Dhabi, but are now in a commanding position to preserve their seven-year unbeaten run away from home.
Their last away series defeat came in Sri Lanka in 2006.
Smith said his team would like to bat just once in the Dubai Test and force a win.
"I will think about it overnight and chat with the guys.
"Obviously I dearly want to bat once in this game, that's the number one goal, and allow the the wicket to deteriorate more.
"It's very dry, so we will definitely bat the morning session tomorrow," said Smith.
Smith became the 12th batsmen overall and just the second South African behind team-mate Jacques Kallis to score 9 000 or more runs in Tests.
"I wasn't thinking about those things.
"I don't think I have ever been the most talented but I found the way how to score runs and understand how to do it and mentally found the way," he said.
"Opening the batting for South Africa has its challenges, so to be at the point where I am is a big tick for me in terms of what I am able to achieve in my career.
"Obviously there is a lot more I want to do but there are milestones that make you very proud and there are not very many people that get to these points, not too many opening batters in particular, so I am extremely happy over the support I have got over the years."
India's maestro Sachin Tendulkar leads the all time run scorers in Test cricket, with 15 837 in 198 Tests.
Besides Tendulkar two other Indians, three Australians, two batsmen from South Africa, West Indies and Sri Lanka have scored 9 000 or more runs in Test cricket.
Here is a full list of batsmen who have scored 9 000 or more runs in Tests (under name, country, matches, runs, highest score, average, hundreds and fifties):
1. Sachin Tendulkar (India) 198 15837 248* 53.86 51 67
2. Ricky Ponting (Aus) 168 13378 257 51.85 41 62
3. Rahul Dravid (India 164 13288 270 52.31 36 63
4. Jacques Kallis (SA) 164 13140 224 55.44 44 58
5. Brian Lara (WI) 131 11953 400* 52.88 34 48
6. Allan Border (Aus) 156 11174 205 50.56 27 63
7. Steve Waugh (Aus) 168 10927 200 51.06 32 50
8. Shivnarine Chanderpaul (WI) 148 10830 203* 51.81 28 61
9. Mahela Jayawardene (SL) 138 10806 374 49.56 31 45
10. Kumar Sangakkara (SL) 117 10486 287 56.98 33 42
11. Sunil Gavaskar (India) 125 10122 236* 51.12 34 45
12. Graeme Smith (SA) 112 9027 277 49.59 27 37