Smith hits second century as England suffer

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The Independent Online

Graeme Smith hit his second century in consecutive tests today and put South Africa in front against England at Lord's.

By early afterrnoon, the tourists were on 272-1

After rain had delayed the start of the second day by 75 minutes, South Africa, resuming on 151 for three, took lunch on 216 for one with Smith unbeaten on 116.

The overnight pair of Smith and Gary Kirsten, 29 not out, continued to dominate Michael Vaughan's team for the second successive day after England, asked to bat first in the second test, was shot out for 173.

The second-wicket pair has added 83 runs in just over an hour and a half.

Smith, starting the day on 80, took just 20 balls to reach his fourth hundred of a brief 12-test career. The 22-year-old captain delicately played swing bowler James Anderson to the fine leg boundary and celebrated the landmark by punching the air.

Continuing from where he left off in his 277 and 85 in the rain-affected draw at Edgbaston, Smith hit four boundaries Friday, and reached his hundred off 155 balls including 16 boundaries.

So far he has batted for 254 minutes and hit 17 fours off 188 balls.

He made England pay dearly for dropping him on eight runs. Former skipper Nasser Hussain, who dramatically quit the job after the drawn test at Edgbaston, dropped an easy catch at cover when Smith drove loosely at an Anderson delivery.

Smith shared a 133-run opening stand with Herschelle Gibbs (49), the only wicket claimed by the England bowlers in 59 overs.

He became only the eighth South African to score a hundred at the home of cricket, and the third player after Kepler Wessels (1994) and Jonty Rhodes (1998), since the nation returned to test cricket following cricketing isolation for 21 years.

He's only the fourth South African captain to score a hundred at Lord's following Percy Sherwell (1907), Alan Melville (1947) and Wessels (1994).

In only his fourth test as captain, Smith showed great maturity and responsibilty to put South Africa in charge for the second time in the series.

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