December 26, 2002

Weather does not dampen Kallis hundred

Rain, a slow pitch and bad light could not stop Jacques Kallis from scoring his eleventh, and first against Pakistan, Test hundred as South Africa took the honours on day one of the First Castle Lager/MTN Test ending on 250 for five wickets in an overcast Durban.

Coming to the crease when South Africa was 33/2 Kallis batted through the day to end undefeated on a magnificent 104 when bad light was called 14 overs from the end. Using simple cricket basics and playing everything to ground Kallis is sure to categorise this as one of his better innings. From the time he came to the crease he hit the ball in the middle of the ball with near perfect timing. Being very strong on the legs he also stroked some classic back foot drives past the covers. His hundred coming up in 284 minutes included eleven fours and a big six off Saqlain Mushtaq over midwicket.

Saqlain bowled 29 overs in the day and was instrumental in restricting South Africa to the 250 in 75 overs. Bowling very well he became the fifth Pakistan player to take 200 wickets in a Test career when he had Boeta Dippenaar caught at the wicket. Not the best ball he ever bowled, a rank long hop outside off, but one that he will remember his entire career.

Saqlain's wicket of Gary Kirsten will also be remembered by many after Kirsten was caught at slip off a no ball he proceeded with an exact replica of the previous ball, this time legal, to have the left-hander once again caught at first slip.

Kirsten, who was very lucky to also survive a leg before decision from umpire Venkataraghavan when on 31, once again proved his form by playing himself to a patient 56, putting together a 122-run third wicket partnership with Kallis.

Waqar Younis had started the day well winning the toss and deciding to field first on a dull and overcast morning. No sooner had the two captains left the field than the rain came down causing a 40-minute delayed start. Whether this delay would have changed his decision is unknown.

The decision however initially proved to be the right one when Graeme Smith fell caught behind off Mohammad Sami for 15 and Herschelle Gibbs, forcing from the back foot, was caught at backward point for 11 from the bowling of Waqar. South Africa at 33 for two, inside of ten overs, needed someone to rebuild the innings.

Smith continual chase of the ball outside the off and the recent form of Gibbs will be a worrying factor for the South African selectors.

Kirsten and Kallis proved to be the players that took South Africa out of the danger zone and into one of some comfort when bad light stopped play.

Dippenaar will have nightmares about the ball that got him out. Forcing a cut at a rank long hop from Saqlain he bottom edged to the keeper while Neil McKenzie will wonder what has happened to his form. Never looking comfortable at the crease, and seemingly unable to read Saqlain he was bowled by a peach of a reverse swinger from Waqar that went through the gate of an expansive drive.

The early weather conditions should have assisted the bowlers a lot more than it did. Surprisingly very little movement was witnessed in the first 15 overs with Saqlain, ominously for South Africa, the one to extract a lot of turn out of the pitch on the morning of the first day. He might just have the last say as this Test progresses.

With 14 overs lost day two will start 30 minutes earlier at 09:30 local (7:30 GMT) tomorrow.