Amla leads Proteas to lead over England

England

South Africa enjoyed a hugely successful day with the bat at the Oval on Saturday, ending day three on 403 for two, which saw them 18 runs ahead of England's first innings score thanks to Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith.

South Africa enjoyed a hugely successful day with the bat at the Oval on Saturday, ending day three on 403 for two, which saw them 18 runs ahead of England's first innings score thanks to Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith.

Amla was still in the middle when play ended, having started the day on 47, and had recorded a mammoth 183 not out, illustrating why he is the number six Test batsman and number one ODI batsman in the world.

Joining Amla on not out was Jacques Kallis, who calmly and easily made 82 not out in the fading London light, never once looking like giving his wicket away on the flat track as England's bowlers toiled unrewarded.

Only one wicket fell on the day, and that belonged to Proteas skipper Smith, who made a wonderful 131 in his 100th Test before falling to Tim Bresnan in the unluckiest of manners. Bresnan's delivery was decent, but it kept low, and Smith softly nudged it onto his pads, it bobbled onto his ankle, and then plopped only one bail out of its cradle.

The visitors started the day on 86 for one, and England would have hoped to emulate the Proteas attack on day two, when they took seven wickets in under two sessions. It was not to be though, and the bowlers had a tough go of it.

The Proteas added 101 runs to their overnight score to go into lunch on 187 for one, with Smith recording his century the over before the break. The afternoon session was less fruitful, runs-wise, and saw Smith falling, but by no means could England have claimed it.

The evening session demonstrated how variable yet flat the wicket was, as many fast deliveries failed to reach Matt Prior behind the stumps. Amla and Kallis did well to navigate the sometimes odd bounce, and kept the runs flowing, especially against Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann.

The Proteas went into the lead in the 128th over, thanks to yet another superlative cover drive by Amla. Strauss got desperate by this stage, and chucked both Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott on to bowl, hoping for a miracle.

England will need to make inroads on day four, as soon as possible, if they are to prevent the Saffas from racking up a big score and sending the home side to bat on the final day, with the pitch crumbling with every over.

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