Proteas crawl to 304-4 on Smith, McKenzie, Amla act

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Chennai, Mar 26 (UNI) South Africa playing to a strategy of not losing wickets and put up a big total, failed to build on a solid start by captain Greame Smith (73) and his opening partner Niel Mckenzie(94) in the first session, and scored 304 at stumps on first day in the first test against India at the M A Chidambaram stadium here today.

Hashim Amla with 85, including 10 fours and A Devilliers on 10 with one four were at the crease. Anil Kumble 2 for 61 and Harbhajan Singh 2 for 92 did most of the bowling for India.

After claiming the wicket of Niel MCKenzie in the post lunch session, the struggling Indian bowlers struck through off spinner Harbhajan Singh. The Punjab tweaker accounted for another danger man in the South African batting line up Jacques Kallis, forcing him to lead the ball into the hands of Wasim Jaffer at forward short leg.

Kallis who made just 13 with one four off 42 balls, put on 48 runs with Amla digging himself in, for the third wicket.

During their stand Amla went on to post his seventh half century mark in tests, and the second against India. The Proteas were 244 when their third wicket fell.

It was poetic justice that after the Indian bowlers continued their struggle to capture another wicket, captain Kumble carrying on undaunted struck with a splendid left handed return catch to dismiss left hander Ashwell Prince, who put on 47 runs in 16.3 overs with Amla who was batting on 82.

At 291 for 4, the Indians with a big battle on hand, heaved a sigh of relief as the Amla-Prince stand was growing in threat.

South Africa posted the 300 mark in 86.2 overs in 374 min.

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