Klusener steers South Africa to safety

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The Independent Online

The all-rounder Lance Klusener rescued South Africa with an unbeaten century on the first day of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Kandy, as controversial umpiring threatened to overshadow individual performances.

The all-rounder Lance Klusener rescued South Africa with an unbeaten century on the first day of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Kandy, as controversial umpiring threatened to overshadow individual performances.

Klusener hit two sixes and 13 fours as he hauled South Africa out of a disastrous position at 34 for 5 to their eventual 253 all out, after the Sri Lanka captain, Sanath Jayasuriya, had won his fifth consecutive toss and invited the South Africans to bat. Most of the day's talking points, however, centred around the contentious umpiring of Sri Lanka's Gamini Silva, who was officiating in his first Test match.

The controversy began after three balls as the South African opener Gary Kirsten was rapped on his pads by a full-length delivery from Chaminda Vaas that appeared to go straight to the stumps. Vaasappealed, but was turned down by umpire Silva.

Two balls later Vaas swung a delivery between Kirsten's bat and pad, the wicketkeeper Kumara Sanagkkara caught the ball, prompting a loud appeal from the close fielders. This time, Silva declared the South African out, apparently caught behind, as Kirsten watched in disbelief. But Silva clarified to the match referee, B F Hastings, of New Zealand, that he had given a leg-before decision.

South Africa's last man, Nantie Hayward, was later bowled from a no-ball by Muttiah Muralitharan, which umpire Silva did not notice. Then, when Sri Lanka opened their first innings, Silva disallowed what looked like a clear catch behind which would have sent Jayasuriya back to the pavilion.

Under cloudy skies, Klusener held the South African innings together in partnership with his vice-captain, Mark Boucher - who helped him in a sixth-wicket stand of 124 - and then with the tail-enders, alongside whom he put on a further 80 runs to bring the total to respectability. By the close, Sri Lanka who lead 1-0 in the three-match series, had scored 15 without loss.

Klusener, who finished on 117 not out, was harsh on the spinners, hitting Muralitharan and Upul Chandana for a six each, as he mixed caution with aggression to break the stranglehold the slow bowlers had exerted.

The partnership with Boucher was brought to a disastrous end when Klusener called for a sharp single after playing the ball wide of Muralitharan, who as well as being one of the best spin bowlers in the world is also one of his side's better fielders. In a flash he sent a return to the wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara, leaving Boucher with no chance of reaching the other end.

Boucher, who survived a bat-and-pad chance to Mahela Jayawardene off Muralitharan at 44, struck eight fours in his 61 which came off 111 balls.

Klusener then went on the offensive against Muralitharan, straight-driving him for a six to bring up South Africa's 150 in the 52nd over, and followed it up with an on-drive for four to reach his 50 off 99 balls. It contained six fours and a six.

He completed his third Test century when he pulled a short delivery from Muralitharan to the midwicket boundary for four. His century came up in 210 minutes off 178 balls andincluded 12 fours and two sixes.

Leg-spinner Chandana struck a double blow when he had Shaun Pollock caught off bat-pad by Jayawardene at silly mid-off for five and trapped Nicky Boje lbw off the next delivery, the last of the over.

South Africa had got off to the worst possible start when they lost openers Kirsten and Neil McKenzie without scoring to stand at four for 2. It soon became 34 for 5 when Kumar Dharmasena bowled Daryll Cullinan and Jonty Rhodes, and Muralitharan trapped Jacques Kallis lbw for 16.

First day; Sri Lanka won toss

SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings

G Kirsten lbw b Vaas 0 N D McKenzie c Jayawardene b Zoysa 0 J H Kallis lbw b Muralitharan 16 D J Cullinan b Dharmasena 2 J N Rhodes b Dharmasena 12 L Klusener not out 118 ÿM V Boucher run out 60 *S M Pollock c Jayawardene b Chandana 5 N Boje lbw b Chandana 0 P R Adams c Jayawardene b Dharmasena 6 M Hayward b Muralitharan 13 Extras (b9 lb6 nb6) 21 Total (84.5 overs) 253

Fall: 1-0, 2-4, 3-16, 4-34, 5-34, 6-158, 7-173, 8-173, 9-210.

Bowling: Vaas 8-5-11-1; Zoysa 6-2-16-1; Dharmasena 20-3-58-3; Muralitharan 30.5-3-95-2; Chandana 20-2-58-2.

SRI LANKA - First Innings

M S Atapattu not out 1 *S T Jayasuriya not out 10 Extras (lb1 nb3) 4 Total (for 0, 7 overs) 15

To Bat: R P Arnold, D P M Jayawardene, A Ranatunga, ÿK Sangakkara, H D P K Dharmasena, U D U Chandana, W P U J C Vaas, M Muralitharan, D N T Zoysa.

Bowling: Pollock 4-1-12-0; Hayward 3-2-2-0.

Umpires: D J Harper (Aus) and G Silva.