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4th August 2008

South Africa Win The toss and bat

Smith’s heroic 154 not out sealed the series for the tourists in the third Test and the left-hander continued to inflict pain on the home side, who can count themselves unlucky to have picked up just one wicket after a threatening bowling display. Smith (40 not out) and Hashim Amla (five no) had moved onto 64 for one at lunch despite Kevin Pietersen’s new look England side looking energetic as they strove for the breakthrough.

Despite losing the toss and being asked to field, Pietersen was almost celebrating after the first ball of the opening over as the recalled Steve Harmison came within a whisker of dismissing Smith. Harmison, back in the side since his being omitted in the tour of New Zealand last winter, found some steepling bounce from the Brit Oval surface and hurried Smith into guiding the ball into the hands of Alastair Cook in the gully. Cook however failed to grasp the chance despite getting two hands to the ball, much to the consternation of both the crowd and his team-mates.
However England’s opening partnership of Harmison and Anderson bowled encouragingly and beat the bat regularly despite failing to make the breakthrough. Indeed it took South Africa 59 balls to register their first boundary, Smith shovelling Anderson through midwicket in the last ball of the Lancastrian’s spell.
Fellow opener Neil McKenzie had slotted into his role of watchfully occupying the crease but opened his boundary account off Harmison shortly afterwards with a brace of leg side fours.

At the other end Smith was savage on anything short from either Andrew Flintoff or Harmison, although the pair did induce a number of false shots amid the collection of boundaries. The Proteas skipper again had a life when he edged Flintoff agonisingly wide of Cook at third slip in the 16th over, although the left hander then showed his class with a splendid drive through the covers off Stuart Broad.

England’s sole success of the morning came when Flintoff tempted McKenzie into a flashing, loose drive outside off stump with Cook keenly making amends for his earlier discretion’s at third slip. Incoming batsman Amla accompanied Smith unbeaten as the players exited the field due to light rain at 12.45pm to take an early lunch, getting off the mark with a wristy flick through square-leg off Flintoff.

To view an up to date scorecard please click the following link