Morkel praises leader Smith

South Africa paceman Morne Morkel hailed a captain's performance from Graeme Smith, whose century put the tourists back in contention in the second Test against Australia in Adelaide.

Australia began the second day on 482 for five, but Morkel's five-wicket haul helped South Africa restrict the hosts to 550 on a good pitch. Smith then made an unbeaten 111 by the close as the Proteas closed on 217 for two - a deficit of 333 - on day two.

"He's a fantastic leader ... one of the best captains I've ever played with," Morkel said of Smith. "We've seen it again today. We needed a guy up front to be solid and he is still out there on 111 not out, and I really hope tomorrow can be a big day for him."

Morkel added: "The amount of passion and pride he shows for his country, the way he gets the guys going like yesterday which was a tough day ... to get us up and pick us up, it's unbelievable.

"I think its experience you don't buy at the supermarket as they say."

Morkel admitted day three would be crucial in the final outcome of the Test and that the Proteas would increase the run rate to hack away more rapidly at Australia's mammoth first-innings score to force a result.

"We always know day three is the moving day and important for us as a unit. Come play tomorrow there's going to be 11 very hungry South Africans taking the field," Morkel said.

"For us now the key is to build the partnerships and hopefully by the end of the day we can be in range or close to their target and take it from there. We will fight now for the next three days."