Amla drives Proteas towards big lead

Australia

South Africa held a lead of 369 runs at stumps on day three of the second Test, with Hashim Amla seven runs away from a much-needed century as he led the side to 192 for four at St George's Park.

South Africa held a lead of 369 runs at stumps on day three of the second Test, with Hashim Amla seven runs away from a much-needed century as he led the side to 192 for four at St George's Park.

Amla was on 93 at the close, after a run of seven knocks without a half century, and made those runs with an injured hand. The Proteas had removed the Aussies for 246 earlier in the day, thanks to some fiery bowling from Morne Morkel.

The Aussies started the day on 112 for four, chasing the 423 the Proteas recorded in the first innings, but were deep in the mire after the home bowlers found some life in the previously dead wicket the night before.

That trend continued before lunch, as David Warner, on 65 overnight, was only able to add five more runs to his score before nibbling at Vernon Philander and catching the edge. Graeme Smith took the catch at first slip.

That was a rarity though, actually holding onto a catch. The Proteas' dire fielding continued, as Amla dislocated his left ring finger while dropping Brad Haddin, and then Steve Smith was put down by sub fielder Robin Peterson. Amla's was tough, Robbie P's was a sitter.

As a result, Smith continued to score his runs, and was on 49 not out at lunch, while Mitchell Johnson's cameo of 27 came to an end when he was bowled by JP Duminy. The over before though, he'd been smashed on the helmet by a Morne Morkel bouncer.

Having lost four wickets in the morning, the last two wickets were actually trickier to get, as the tail wagged a bit. Ryan Harris added a brisk 26 alongside Peter Siddle, who made 11, after Smith was out for 49.

Harris was the final wicket to fall, finding the edge off a fired-up Morkel and caught by Faf du Plessis. This lefts the Proteas with a lead of 177 going into the second innings, mindful of probable rain on day five.

Skipper Smith's poor form against Johnson continued after a short innings break. He struck a boundary to get off the mark, off Johnson, but was only able to score 10 before his angled bat caught an inside edge onto his stumps.

Dean Elgar, who made 83 in the first innings, was unable to replicate that form, as he was removed for 16 by Siddle. He faced 46 balls for his runs, but was caught behind after taking a nibble outside off stump.

By tea, Amla looked in solid nick, despite the dislocated finger he'd picked up earlier on, and cover drove his way to 24, while Du Plessis was on one.

The evening session saw two wickets fall, one each to Siddle and Johnson. Du Plessis made his way to 24 before Sid Vicious got him caught behind, which brought AB de Villiers to the middle.

The prolific batsman was once again on song, playing a number of cracking cover drives off the front and back foot, but he could only make 29 before edging Johnson to Haddin. It was only his third below-30 score in 18 innings.

Amla was pure joy to watch though, giving a demonstration in cover driving on either side of the wicket, as all and sundry waxed lyrical about his footwork and hands. He was accompanied by debutant Quinton de Kock, who was on nine at the close.

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