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April 29, 2005
For the second time in as many Tests, Graeme Smith, the South African captain, was surprised at the West Indian approach while bowling and felt that "they gave up too early". Smith and his opening partner, AB de Villiers, rattled up an undefeated 214-run opening stand on the first day of the fourth Test at Antigua and gave South Africa a great chance to end a triumphant series on a high.
"I didn't think twice about batting after I won the toss and I was surprised when I found out that the West Indies were going to bowl first if they had the choice," Smith was reported as saying in Reuters. "It was also surprising that they took [Tino] Best off after he started to reverse-swing the ball and that they started with Wavell Hinds after tea."
Smith had commented on the West Indian tactics in the earlier Test at Barbados as well when he felt that they didn't allow their medium pacers to make full use of the new ball and reverted to part-timers instead. Just like then, both him and de Villiers cashed in with hundreds on a day when West Indies were left chasing shadows. "We never allowed them to settle, he added, "but I think the West Indies gave up too early."
Speaking about the fantastic opening partnership, Smith said that they had taken the weather forecast into account. "Our plan was to get a decent start," he continued, "especially with the rain coming, and the rate we scored at helped to make up for the rain stoppages."
This was Smith's third consecutive hundred of the series and he had to overcome an edgy start before the bludgeoning strokes began to flow. "I started iffishly," he said, "but the wicket is really good and it saved me in the early stages of my innings." He also admitted that de Villiers had played the more fluent knock: "AB was superb, you can't get much better than 63 not out off 60 balls, which is what he had scored when we went off for rain the first time."
de Villiers said that he backed his positive instincts throughout the innings and was pleased that he had made a big score for the second consecutive Test. "I proved in Barbados that I can bat for a long time and my strokes will always be there," he said. "They bowled a bit tighter at me when I reached the 80s but if the ball is there to be hit I will hit it. "
Despite the series being sealed, Smith was eager that South Africa finish on a high. "If we win here it's 100 Test victories for our country and three in a row on tour, which South Africa has never done before."
In what turned out to be a bizzarre end to the press conference, Smith, de Villiers and a group of journalists were accidentally locked into the room where the session took place. The players and two of the reporters escaped by climbing over a slippery rail and onto a neighbouring stand and the door was eventually forced open by ground staff some 15 minutes after the press conference ended.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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