South Africa make strong start against Pakistan

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KARACHI, Oct 1 (Reuters) South Africa got off to a solid start on the opening day of the first test against Pakistan at the National stadium today, going in to lunch at 96-1.

On a perfect pitch for spinners, skipper Graeme Smith was the only casualty of the opening session when he was trapped leg before by part timer off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez for 42 after an opening stand of 87 with Herschelle Gibbs.

Gibbs was batting on 42 and Hashim Amla on eight after the visitors won the toss.

Pakistan are playing with two specialist spinners, Danish Kaneria and debutant Abdul Rehman. Rehman gives Pakistan a left arm spinner for the first time in a test since 1999 when Nadeem Khan played against India.

All four spinners in the home side, including skipper Shoaib Malik, bowled in the first session after an unimpressive opening spell by Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul.

South Africa, with Shaun Pollock dropped for the first time in his 107 test career and fast bowler Morne Morkel out through injury, made a cracking start through Smith and Gibbs as Asif and Gul struggled on a flat track.

Gibbs playing some smooth pull shots in his 93 ball innings, including five boundaries, while Smith was strong on the leg side making his runs from 66 balls with five fours.

The two brought up their 50 partnership from only 80 balls.

Pakistan introduced leg-spinner Kaneria in the 10th over the match but it was Hafeez who struck in the 24th, trapping Smith on his back pad in front of the stumps.

REUTERS BJR RK1305

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