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October 18, 2002
Gary Kirsten became the first Test player in world cricket to score a century against all of the nine Test playing nations when he completed the full house with a hundred for South Africa against Bangladesh on day one of the inaugural Test at Buffalo Park in East London.
With Buffalo Park becoming the tenth venue in South Africa to host a Test match, Khaled Mashud won the toss for Bangladesh and decided to put South Africa in to bat on a pitch and under conditions that looked like favouring the bowlers early on. New South African captain Mark Boucher commented that he too would have fielded had he won the toss.
Herschelle Gibbs and Graeme Smith, after a conservative start, soon got into their stride, taking the score to 87 when Gibbs attempting to cut, slapped a catch to extra cover, who obliged by taking it head high. Gibbs had scored a fluent 41, leaving the stage for Smith and Gary Kirsten.
Kirsten, who had been left out of the one-day squad, seemed a rejuvenated batsman. Starting his innings by playing with a straight bat and restricting his shots between mid on and mid off, he batted with confidence and authority scoring at almost a run a ball.
Coming into the match, Kirsten was level with Steve Waugh and Sachin Tendulkar on hundreds against eight of the playing nations. He went to his 50 in 83 minutes and then set his mark, going to the hundred in 227 minutes. It was an innings that he would remember for years to come, and provided great joy for South African supporters who were pleased to see him back in top form. Kirsten is now also the highest South African Test centurion with 15 100s to his name.
Smith, meanwhile, showed that he is far more suited to the longer version of the game, timing the ball sweetly through the off side field. He went to his first Test hundred in 209 minutes, the youngest South African to do so since re-admission, and continued to work hard at reaching the magical 200 in 338 minutes, becoming the tenth South African to score a 200 - the 14th occasion a South African had achieved the feat.
Having just gone to his 200, Smith came down the wicket and lofted a simple catch to deep mid on. A 272-run partnership with Kirsten had come to an end and South Africa had lost the second wicket on 359.
The Bangladesh bowlers, apart from Manjural Islam, never consistently got the ball in the correct areas. Not receiving the expected assistance from the conditions and the pitch, they toiled hard without any reward. The spinners finding very little turn found themselves at the mercy of the batsmen.
The day completely belonged to South Africa who dominated each session, ending it on 369/2 with Kirsten on 113 and Jacques Kallis on 1. If day one was anything to go by, then day two is going to be another long haul for Bangladesh.
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