Fleming strikes captains knock

Stephen Fleming led the way with a century as the BLACKCAPS batsmen enjoyed a solid first day's work in the opening exchanges of the second Test against South Africa at Newlands.

The captain completed his ninth Test century and first against Proteas in 21 attempts to usher his team to 265 for six from 78 overs.

His unbeaten 114 came off 202 balls in four hours, 20 minutes after a century partnership with fellow veteran Nathan Astle in an encouraging display by the BLACKCAPS’ top order.

Fleming was put into bat by counterpart Graeme Smith on a pitch which was used for the first time in a Cape Town autumn as they sought to level the three-match series.

The New Zealanders had opted to play two spinners, handing a debut to off-spinner Jeetan Patel. Michael Papps returned to the side as an opener at the expense of the injured Hamish Marshall.

Andre Nel was a late replacement for Shaun Pollock, who was been ruled out of the second Test by a back injury. Hashim Amla had already been called up to replace Herschelle Gibbs.

The State Canterbury Wizards opening pair of Peter Fulton and Papps put on a solid 50, but the latter, in his first Test appearance in almost two years, was first to go.

Papps made 22 from 58 balls before falling to a deceptive in swinging delivery from the recalled Nel.

The BLACKCAPS were well placed at the meal break, at 62 for one Fulton on 36 and Stephen Fleming on one after 20 overs, but the remaining opener was soon dispatched.

The scorers had not been troubled in the eight balls after lunch when Fulton was dismissed by wicketkeeper Mark Boucher off Dale Steyn.

Replacement Scott Styris endured a tough 37 minutes for his 11 runs, receiving a blow to the head as the Proteas’ frontline pace attack upped the ante.

He fought on, but Makhaya Ntini, the scourge of the BLACKCAPS at Centurion, removed the all-rounder and the Fleming-Astle double act was given centre stage.

The skipper made ensured steady progress as he made his 50 off 109 deliveries and the experienced pairing enjoyed a profitable afternoon session, adding 99 runs in the 20 overs remaining before the tea break.

However, the interlude broke the momentum, and Astle was hastily returned to the pavilion for 50. Having earned his 24th Test half-century, the 34-year-old was ruled out when Ntini received the benefit of his lbw appeal.

Fleming progressed and reached his hundred, but not before losing sixth-wicket partner Jacob Oram. Having compiled a promising 48-run stand, the lofty all rounder has made 11 when he was run out when Fleming chased a single from a shot behind leg, which Ashwell Prince did well to capitalise on.

Brendon McCullum’s innings was short-lived. The wicketkeeper made five before becoming Ntini’s second lbw victim and third wicket of the day.

Fleming remained at the crease when offered bad light after 78 overs, and will look to progress on day two alongside his deputy Daniel Vettori, who contributed one run before play was halted.

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