Amla, de Villiers put Proteas on top

South Africa took control of the second Test against Australia on day three as a century stand between Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers helped them to a lead of 199.

South Africa took control of the second Test against Australia on day three as a century stand between Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers helped them to a lead of 199 with seven second-innings wickets still in hand.

Amla and de Villiers were unbeaten on 89 and 70 respectively when bad light stopped play with as much as 24 overs remaining in the day, leaving South Africa on 229 for three when the umpires pulled stumps.

The unbroken 139-run partnership had turned a topsy-turvy Test match for the umpteenth time, as the Proteas recovered from 90 for three shortly before lunch and began to cash in on Australia's misfortune.

The tourists were forced to do without key bowler Shane Watson throughout the day as he continues to feel the effects of a hamstring strain picked up on the opening day of the Test, and the extra workload had a visible effect on the other fast bowlers even if they were largely able to maintain their discipline as they tired.

Patrick Cummins was impressive throughout the day, picking up two of the wickets to fall and never putting in a bad spell in 17 overs that brought him 2 for 46 in front of a crowd of around 16,000 at the Wanderers, the majority of whom were dressed in pink to promote awareness around breast cancer.

Having faced just four balls on Friday evening, the Proteas openers were fresh first up and Graeme Smith and Jacques Rudolph looked largely comfortable during the opening exchanges.

The vacant third man boundary was a favourite for both men, and Rudolph (24 off 23) in particular was aggressive until that positive intent cost him his wicket.

Faced with a short ball from Cummins, the opener decided to go for the hook instead of taking evasive action and he paid the penalty. Beaten for pace, the top edge was found and Brad Haddin gleefully pouched an easy catch.

Rudolph has made a start in every innings of the series, and couldn't hide his frustration at once again failing to capitalise.

Smith (36) continued to look in good touch, such a change from the scratchy beginnings of the Australian tour, but like Rudolph got out after putting in the hard yards.

The South African skipper had enjoyed good value for strokes behind square on the off side but a bit of extra bounce from Nathan Lyon saw the left-hander slice the spinner to Phillip Hughes at point. It was an all too familiar scenario for Smith and his team.

While Rudolph and to a lesser extent Smith were culpable in their demise, Kallis was well set up by the ever-impressive Cummins.

Having showered Kallis with short balls early in his innings, Cummins delivered a fuller delivery angling away from the corridor of uncertainty, leaving Kallis caught on his toes and fending the ball to Michael Clarke at second slip.

That left the Proteas just 60 runs ahead with three key batsmen back in the hut, but Amla and de Villiers came out after lunch and showed greater application than punters have been treated to in the series thus far.

Although there were a few sketchy moments when both batsmen looked to reverse sweep Lyon – sometimes to good effect – they quickly thought better of such ploys and returned to traditional Test match batting.

Such resolve paid off, with Amla going to his half-century in 115 balls, and de Villiers giving Lyon the charge to clear mid-off and go to fifty in a more aggressive 82 deliveries.

The pair took tea on 191 for three, and looked well set to abuse a tired bowling attack when bad light intervened and allowed the Australians an early close.

The tourists will return on Sunday morning refreshed, knowing that the match is certainly not beyond them with a full two days still to play.