Smith ton sinks Australia

Centurion, February 26:

Graeme Smith hit an unbeaten century to lead South Africa to victory in the first one-day international here at Centurion Park.

Continuing a resurgence of form which started when he made 89 not out in a Twenty20 international in Johannesburg on Friday, Smith made 119 not out in a South African total of 207 for four in 37.3 overs as the home side won by six wickets according to the Duckworth/Lewis method. They had been set a target of 233 in 47 overs, which was revised to 204 in 41 overs after a rain break which came immediately after Smith reached his century.

South Africa had the upper hand for most of the match against an injury-hit Australian team, with the tourists forced to field their only 11 fit players after captain Ricky Ponting withdrew because of an abdominal strain. Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey shared a century partnership and Brett Lee hit out powerfully to enable Australia to reach 229 for eight in an innings reduced to 47 overs by rain.

Clarke (53) and Hussey (56) rescued the side from a shaky start and Australia were 162 for six when rain stopped play after 40 overs. When play resumed more than an hour later, Lee hit an unbeaten 38 off 28 balls as Australia hit 67 runs off the remaining seven overs.

Stand-in captain Adam Gilchrist decided to bat after winning the toss but his side were soon in trouble as South African opening bowlers Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini took advantage of helpful, overcast conditions. Australia slipped to 25 for three before Clarke and Hussey put on exactly 100 runs for the fourth wicket.

Clarke and Hussey were starting to get on top, taking 43 runs in seven overs of spin from Robin Peterson and Smith, when Smith brought back Pollock. With the second ball of his new spell, Pollock had Clarke superbly caught by a diving AB de Villiers at cover. He followed up with the wicket of Hussey, caught at deep midwicket, in his next over.

Pollock finished with three for 23 from ten overs. Lee and Shane Watson added 51 for the seventh wicket as Australia finished strongly. With rain a constant threat, South Africa were quickly ahead of the required rate despite losing Boeta Dippenaar and Herschelle Gibbs early.

Smith and AB de Villiers put on 83 off 62 balls with De Villiers playing a dazzling innings of 43 off 30 balls before Smith and Justin Kemp took South Africa to victory with an unbeaten fifth wicket stand of 73.