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Since 1st March, 1999
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Mongia toys with SA attack
- Cavalier 39 by Dhoni; Kallis suffers side strain

Jaipur: The South Africans got a taste of what lay in store for them in India with the Board President's XI batsmen toying with their pedestrian bowling on the second day of the three-day tour match here on Monday.

Dinesh Mongia led the home team's batting with an unbeaten century while Mahender Singh Dhoni brought the crowd to its feet with a cavalier innings of 39 with six fours and a six.

At close, the hosts were 320 for five, a lead of 94, with Mongia batting on 135 and Hemang Badani unbeaten on 49.

Except for the failure of Dheeraj Jadhav and Sadagopan Ramesh, other batsmen showed a positive spirit as they put the South African bowling to the sword.

Gautam Gambhir (26) was fluent on both sides of the wicket in the morning before Venugopala Rao (29) teased the spinners with his wristy flicks in the afternoon.

For Graeme Smith, the day's proceedings portended tough days ahead in the subcontinent as his slow bowlers failed to make any kind of impact.

Justin Ontong, a top-order batsman who is also expected to be the frontline spinner in the series, toiled hard for figures of 19-1-100-1. His last four overs cost 32 runs as Mongia and Badani struck eight fours off him.

Smith, who had said before the match that he considered his off-spin to be good enough to take wickets, rolled his arm for six overs and went wicketless.

It was curious then that the visitors chose to leave out for the match Robin Peterson, the lone specialist spinner in the squad.

Mongia did himself a huge favour with his batting. He cut out the extravagant shots and focussed on playing shots to his strength.

The Punjab lefthander was involved in three partnerships with Rao, Dhoni and Badani as the Board President's team piled runs at a brisk pace.

After adding 56 runs with Rao for the fourth wicket that lifted the team from a precarious 61 for three, Mongia stitched a 91-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Dhoni before sharing an unbroken 112-run stand with Badani.

Rao waged a brief battle with Ontong, lunging forward to drive him through the covers and flicking from outside the off in a fashion that reminded one of VVS Laxman.

The lazy elegance, however, brought the downfall of Andhra batsman after he had got his eye in. His 29 came off 67 balls with four fours.

Dhoni was on a roll from the moment he came to the crease. A cut to the point boundary was his first four. When Smith brought himself on, he welcomed him with a towering six over the sightscreen.

The wicketkeeper-batsman, who was impressive on the India A tour this season, too fell after being well set as he edged Ontong to be caught behind. Dhoni's 39 came off 62 balls with six fours and a six.

The unbroken century stand between Mongia, who had so far struck 16 fours, and Badani literally had the South Africans on the mat. The latter, in fact, was faster in terms of scoring rate, his 49 coming off 78 balls with eight fours.

Another worry for the tourists was Jacques Kallis returning to the dressing room after bowling only three overs. The allrounder suffered a side strain during practice on the morning of the match and bowled from a shortened run-up.

Earlier in the day, South Africa produced a disciplined bowling performance to push the hosts on the defensive .

The hosts, resuming at four for no loss, made a bright start before losing control of the proceedings. The dead track proved a challenge to the South African fast bowlers but the visitors extracted good pace and bounce on a couple of occasions that was not seen on the first day.

The morning session saw the tourists operate all their seamers who bowled consistently at a pace to keep the batsmen on the backfoot and even surprised them with sharply rising deliveries.

One such from Pollock climbed at Gambhir awkwardly who popped up for a simple catch to wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile.

Pollock made a vociferous appeal for leg before against Gambhir but the Delhi batsman recovered to leg glance Hall to fine leg for another boundary. His 26 came off just 30 balls and included four fours.

Then the slide started. Jadhav (12) looked circumspect throughout before Ntini rapped him on the pads. Most disappointing was Ramesh (9) who was struck plumb in front by a full-length delivery from Hall.

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