Smith century takes Proteas to 215/2 at stumps

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Proteas captain Graeme Smith's 20th century and a fifty from Hashim Amla on Friday put South Africa in a strong position at stumps.

Updated: January 16, 2010 17:07 IST
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Proteas captain Graeme Smith's 20th century and a fifty from Hashim Amla on Friday put South Africa in a strong position at stumps of a rain-shortened second day of the fourth Test against England at the Wanderers Stadium.

Smith was dismissed for 105 midway through the second session, shortly before rain halted play for more than three hours.

Before the thunderstorm hit Johannesburg, South Africa was on 208 for two wickets and although a superb effort from the ground staff ensured that play could resume, only 3.5 overs were then bowled before the umpires abandoned the action for the day due to bad light.

The Proteas will resume on Saturday on 215-2, with Hashim Amla on 73 not out and Jacques Kallis on 7 not out. The South Africans lead by 35 runs, after bowling out England for 180 on Thursday.

Smith had added 21 runs to his lunchtime score of 84 when he became the second Proteas batsman out. He was caught at first slip by England counterpart Andrew Strauss off Ryan Sidebottom for 105. Smith was out in the 11th over after lunch, after having gone to three figures by cutting Sidebottom behind square for his 16th boundary.

Sidebottom got his man, though, bending one away from the big left-hander to find the outside edge of his bat with the total on 201 - just 13 balls before the rain drove the players from the field.

Smith also scored a century in the previous Test in Cape Town. South Africa has never lost a match in which their captain has scored a century and they are desperate to win the fourth and final Test of the current series, to level the score at 1-1.

Strong bowling on Thursday by Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel gave the Proteas a fast start in the match, but significant time was lost on the first two days, and the Proteas will be hoping they can still set up a series-levelling victory.

The not out batsmen at the rain break were Amla on 71 off 119 balls with eight fours, and Jacques Kallis on 2 off 4 balls. Tea was taken with the covers still on the square.

Smith's 105 took him 251 minutes, although he appeared to have a lucky let-off with the total on 36-0 in the fourth over of the day.

On 15 not out, he cut a wide ball from Sidebottom and with a sound audible as he flashed his bat, England went up confidently for a catch by wicketkeeper Matt Prior. Smith was given not out, but England called for a review. However, without "snicko" and "hot-spot" technology available, TV umpire Daryl Harper ruled not out.

Smith cashed in, gratefully accepting several balls on his legs which he drove and pulled to the leg-side boundary. The Proteas captain also hit 183 in the third Test at Newlands and 75 in the Durban Test.

Amla had 95 in Cape Town and 100 in Pretoria earlier in the series to his credit going into the fourth Test.

South Africa took their overnight score of 29-0 to 161-1 at lunch. The Proteas added 132 runs in 35 overs in a morning session extended to two-and-a-half hours due to time lost to rain and bad light on Thursday.

The second-wicket pair, Smith and Amla added 164 runs off 40.5 overs, having come together in the 17th over when left-hander Ashwell Prince went out for 19, caught off an outside edge by Graeme Swann off Stuart Broad.

The two England bowlers to claim a wicket were Sidebottom with figures of 1-49 and Broad with 1-52.

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