| Graeme Smith (left) celebrates his century with Herschelle Gibbs on the first day of the second Test in Cape Town Thursday. (Reuters)
Cape Town: South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs and Graeme Smith rewrote the record books with a 368-run first wicket partnership against Pakistan on Thursday.
The stand, a record for any South African wicket, set the home side on their way to 445 for three at stumps on the first day of the second Test at Newlands. South Africa lead the series 1-0.
Gibbs hit a career-best 228 while Smith, who has been left out of the World Cup squad, made 151 as South Africa amassed their most runs ever in a single day of Test cricket.
The opening partnership lasted five-and-half hours and was scored off 429 balls with 44 fours and five sixes.
Gibbs hit 29 fours and six sixes in his 240-ball stay. Smith struck 18 fours from 216 balls faced. The stand was the fourth highest in Test history for the first wicket, the record of 413 set by Indians Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy against New Zealand in 1955-56 remaining intact.
It was Gibbs’ eighth Test century and second double. It was Smith’s second hundred in Tests. The partnership was broken in the 70th over of the day when Smith played a tired shot to a straight ball from seamer Mohammad Zahid and was bowled.
The 28-year-old Gibbs moved beyond 3,000 runs in Test cricket and also achieved his highest score when he hit Younis Khan for six over mid-wicket to take him beyond the mark of 211, scored against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1999.
It was also his first century at his home ground at Newlands.
Pakistan selected only four front-line bowlers and paid the price on a sedate wicket after Shaun Pollock won the toss.
The opening pair surpassed the previous highest South African partnership of 341, set for the third wicket between Eddie Barlow and Graeme Pollock against Australia in Adelaide in 1963-64.
Along the way they eclipsed South Africa’s previous highest first-wicket stand of 260 between Bruce Mitchell and Jack Siedle — against England, also at Newlands, which had stood for 72 years.
Gibbs’ six-and-half hour innings ended when he edged the ball on to his pad and was caught at slip by Younis off Saqlain Mushtaq.
Both batsmen had some luck during the day. Gibbs was dropped twice — once on 29 and again on 99. Smith’s one life came when Younis dropped a sharp chance at slip off Saqlain on 54.
The Pakistani bowling figures were a tale of woe as South Africa scored at a staggering five runs per over throughout the day.
Zahid returned to Test cricket after four years and disappeared for 33 in his first five overs. Captain Waqar Younis was equally poor, going for 99 runs in 19 overs.
Saqlain also suffered heavily conceding 160 in 32 overs which included ten no-balls although Pakistan managed to snap up three wickets in the last hour of play. Jacques Kallis and Boeta Dippenaar will resume on Friday.
The South Africans will top the world Test championship table if they win the two-match series.