Amla guides Proteas to decent lead

South Africa reached stumps on day three of the third Test against England on 145 for three, having suffered the loss of their opening batsmen early on and relying on a half century by Hashim Amla to steady the ship.

South Africa reached stumps on day three of the third Test against England on 145 for three, having suffered the loss of their opening batsmen early on and relying on a half century by Hashim Amla to steady the ship.

Amla recorded his fifty in the final over of the day, and his partnership of 81 with Jacques Kallis (31) for the third wicket ensured the visitors had a lead of 139 at the close of play, though the latter had been sent packing 15 minutes before the end.

The Proteas only needed six runs to overhaul England's lead, after Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn each bagged four wickets as England were all out for 315 an hour before tea. Jonny Bairstow, who started the day on 72, could not reach his century, and fell for 95 before lunch.

The day began sedately for both sides, as they negotiated the old ball for eight overs with England on 208 for five at the start. The new ball arrived right on 80, and Vernon Philander immediately made it sing, getting rid of Matt Prior after tempting him to swing at a wider one.

It was another example of poor shot selection by the batsmen from both sides in this series, and Kallis' safe hands made no mistake with the catch. Prior walked off shaking his head, probably dreading the dressing-down he'd get on the England balcony.

Broad was the next man in, and while he looked shaky against the pace he was subjected to, he managed to score 22 and ushered Bairstow into the Nervous 90's. The Nottinghamshire man couldn't resist Steyn forever though, and popped a short ball off his hip straight at Amla at short square leg.

Bairstow spent what seemed to be an eternity on 95 (43 minutes, to be precise), taking deep breaths and looking very much like a man on the brink of his maiden century at the home of cricket.

It was not to be though, after the Proteas bowlers made life impossible for him, and Morkel sent his bails flying 20 minutes before lunch, the ball going between bat and pad as he tried to flick it to leg side.

England went into lunch 32 runs behind. James Anderson lasted five balls afterwards before edging Steyn to the slips, where Jacques Rudolph stood waiting for the catch.

Steyn continued to fire the short balls in with great accuracy, and after hitting Anderson on the elbow before lunch, he struck Steve Finn on the back of the helmet with a vicious bouncer that left the England number 11 seeing stars.

The tail-enders persevered though, taking the score past South Africa's 309 in the 106th over, with Graeme Swann paying no attention to the intimidation tactics being employed against him.

Finn was handed a lifeline on nine, as Graeme Smith inexplicably dropped a sitter in the slips, but he could only add one more run to his tally before becoming Morkel's fourth victim. JP Duminy took an easy catch in the covers, thus denying Steyn his name on the honours board… for now.

South Africa's innings began well, and they made it to tea on 33 for nought after 15 overs, Smith and Alviro Petersen taking care to defend their scalps as they went into the lead.

They continued to play measured knocks afterwards, until Smith got overly confident against Swann, tried to sweep him and found himself plumb in front. He departed for 23, not calling for a review, and the Proteas sat on 46 as Amla came to the middle.

The triple-centurion from the first Test found himself the recipient of a large dose of luck when his score was on three. He gloved a Broad delivery down leg side, and Prior dropped the relatively simple catch.

Broad got his man the next ball though, albeit the other one after they ran a single on the drop. Petersen was trapped LBW, again didn't bother to review it as it was so obviously out, and suddenly the Proteas needed some rescuing.

Amla was joined by the ever-reliable Kallis, so the visitors had their most solid men in the middle. The duo soon put paid to any notion of batting the evening out, and raced to 100 in the 35th over, the 50 partnership coming up in just 10 overs together.

The pair continued until 15 minutes before the close, when Kallis was again given out via DRS. This time he was out though, trapped in front by Steve Finn for 31, though he thought he had nicked it onto the pads. Hot spot showed he hadn't and a partnership of 81 came to a close.

Steyn came in as the night watchman to see out the last few overs, and got smacked on the same hand Anderson had hit him on in the first innings. But he prevailed, and he and Amla saw the day to a close without further injury.