When a batsman plays so many quality knocks over the course of a magnificent career, it is difficult to handpick only five from them. We tried doing the unenvious job, choosing five, which we felt, were among his best international hundreds. Have a look.
259 vs England, Lord’s Test, 2003: Smith had compiled a marathon 277 in the previous drawn Test, but we picked his 259 at Lord’s since it led South Africa to a memorable triumph. England batted first in the Test, and were bundled out for 173. Smith led South Africa’s reply with a magnificent 259. The great knock which lasted 574 minutes was studded with 34 hits to the fence. Smith faced 370 balls during his knock, and maintained an impressive strike rate of 70 before eventually being bowled by James Anderson. Smith was the third man out in South Africa’s innings, with the score reading 513. The Proteas won the Test by an innings and 92 runs.
125* vs New Zealand, Wellington Test, 2004: In spite of their limited reserves, beating New Zealand in their own den can be rather tricky, as Smith and his men discovered back in 2004. South Africa had lost the previous Test and needed to win this to square the series. The Proteas were set a challenging 234 to win in the last innings. Inside the first ten overs though they had lost Gibbs, Rudolph and Kallis, with the score reading a disastrous 36 for 3. This is where the skipper stepped up. Smith held one end up and remained unbeaten on 125 to take his team home by six wickets. His dogged knock featured 17 fours and came off 203 balls. Smith was well supported by veteran Gary Kirsten, who contributed 76 in his farewell Test.
134* vs India, Kolkata ODI, 2005: Although South Africa weren’t as consistent in one-dayers, Smith did taste one of his greatest ODI moments at the Lord’s of the sub-continent – Eden Gardens. This was the fourth match of the series. India batted first and had been bowled out for 188. Although the target was a small one, Indian bowlers can be a handful in home conditions. Smith, however, ensured nothing of that sort happened as he blasted an unbeaten 134 off 124 balls against a formidable attack comprising Agarkar, Pathan and Harbhajan as South Africa won by 10 wickets.
108 against Australia, Perth Test, 2008: Smith played a major role in South Africa pulling off the incredible at Perth. The Proteas were set to chase an improbable 414, and for all counts it seemed South Africa were down and out. But, Smith took the attack to Australia with a smashing 108 off 147 balls with 13 fours. AB de Villiers also registered an unbeaten century as South Africa easily won in the end, by six wickets.
234 vs Pakistan, Dubai (2nd) Test, 2013: Smith’s last international hundred came under trying circumstances and was one of his best. Having bowled out Pakistan for 99, Smith led South Africa’s reply with a brilliant 234. Smith occupied the crease for 627 minutes and hit 16 fours. South Africa registered a comprehensive win by an innings and 92 runs, and squared the two-match series.
--By A Cricket Analyst