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Smith, de Villiers decimate Pakistan

Skipper’s 227, his deputy’s 157 and their unfinished stand of 326 help South Africa surge ahead by 361 runs

Smith, de Villiers decimate Pakistan - Cricket News
South African batsman AB de Villiers (C) is congratulated by captain Graeme Smith (L) after he reaching 150 runs.
Graeme Smith, the South African captain, and AB de Villiers, his deputy, combined for a daunting, record, unseparated fifth-wicket partnership of 326 on the second day of the second Test against Pakistan in Dubai on Thursday (October 24) as South Africa finished the day on 460 for 4, with a vast lead of 361 runs.
 
There can be few things more dispiriting for a bowling team than a full day of honest toil in the field without taking a wicket. Perhaps one of them is managing to claim just the wicket of the night watchman, which is exactly what happened to Pakistan – and even Dale Steyn took some persuading, having hung around for over half an hour before Mohammad Irfan swung one back beautifully to hit the top of off stump with no shot offered.
 
But that was it for Pakistan as Smith marched on to record his 27th Test century and fifth double, reaching 227 from 367 deliveries with 16 fours by the close. De Villiers played with embarrassing freedom and ease for the majority of his innings after a steady start and quiet finish. His first 50 came from 95 balls but the second from only 57 as he employed all his favourite strokes, straight driving the seamers and dabbing them to third man at will. The spinners, inevitably, were reverse swept from time to time – simply because he can.
 
Neither batsman had things entirely his own way, although you had to watch proceedings closely to catch the moments when they experienced difficulty. Smith was thumped a solid blow on the helmet by Irfan, having premeditatedly backed away to cut to third man: “It left me with a buzzing head for the rest of the day and taught me not to premediate, especially against him,” Smith said later. “He bowled a couple of really fast, hostile spells.”
 
Smith also survived an extremely confident appeal for a catch at leg slip shortly before the close when he attempted a leg glance against Azhar Ali, the part-timer, and Younis Khan dived forward to take a low catch. Umpire Rod Tucker said ‘not out’, Younis persuaded Misbah-ul-Haq to review the decision immediately but Paul Reiffel, the third umpire, could find no evidence to overturn. Misbah might have incurred the wrath of the match referee simply with the strength of his stare.
 
De Villiers began suffering from cramp shortly before reaching his 17th Test century and almost paid the price when a throw from the deep left him sprawling desperately to make his ground attempting a second run. Only a full length dive and a missing television frame saved him.
 
Again, on 101, he survived by reviewing an lbw decision against Saeed Ajmal which looked palpably out to both the naked eye and the first set of television replays. Hawkeye, however, revealed that Ajmal had spun the ball too much and, despite hitting the batsman in front of off stump and close to the crease, it would have spun comfortably past leg stump.
 
The fifth-wicket partnership of 326 was a South African record, surpassing the 267 between Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince against West Indies in 2005, while the previous best against Pakistan was 213 by Ashwell Prince and Herschelle Gibbs in 2007.
 
“We are good friends, so it was great to bat a whole day with him. The innings was still a bit precarious when Dale was out and we needed to solidify, but the way he played was very special,” Smith said. “We are certainly in a position to take the game away from them. “I’ll think about it overnight but maybe 450 would be a good lead to have.”

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