South Africa closed day three of the second Test in Port Elizabeth with a huge lead of 369 runs over Australia, reaching stumps on 192 for four in their second innings.
Hashim Amla returned to form with a majestic unbeaten 93 and was helped by contributions from Faf du Plessis (24) and the in-form AB de Villiers (29). Earlier in the day, Australia conceded a first innings lead of 177 by being bowled out for 246 in reply to South Africa’s 423.
Resuming on 112 for four, Vernon Philander (3-68) got the big wicket of David Warner for 70 when he induced the left-hander into a drive that was edged to Graeme Smith at first slip. Night-watchman Nathan Lyon was next to go for 15 to end a string of not outs that had lasted right through the Ashes series. He backed away against Morne Morkel and dragged onto his stumps.
Brad Haddin and Steve Smith provided some respite with a seventh-wicket partnership worth 40 as a couple of catches were spilled by the home side and Wayne Parnell pulled up with a groin injury. He is unlikely to bowl again in the match. However, Dale Steyn soon roared through Haddin’s defences to splatter his stumps, while Mitchell Johnson made a sprightly 27 off 23 balls before being bowled by JP Duminy just before lunch.
Smith reached his half-century shortly after the resumption but was then the subject of some DRS controversy. Morne Morkel appealed for a caught behind decision, but Richard Illingworth was unmoved. Undeterred, South Africa asked for the review, with Snicko registering a slight noise as ball passed bat. Whether it was enough to overturn the decision is debatable - Australia were certainly unimpressed.
At this point, Australia were still just shy of the follow-on target of 224, but the last-wicket pair of Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle saw them past that by adding 37 in good time. Harris was finally dismissed by Morkel, who ended with three for 63, for a run-a-ball 26.
South Africa walked out to begin their second innings with a huge lead but will have an eye on the clock with rain forecast for Monday. Graeme Smith’s troubles with the bat continued when he was beaten for pace by Johnson when on 14, while Peter Siddle had Dean Elgar edging behind just before tea to keep Australian hopes of a comeback alive.
However, they were largely scotched in the evening session as Amla led the Proteas attack and they added 134 runs in 32 overs. Amla and du Plessis put on 70 for the third-wicket prior to du Plessis being caught behind off Siddle a little after Amla had reached his 28th Test half-century.
De Villiers then joined Amla and continued to look in superb form before attempting an upper cut off Johnson and only succeeding in edging through to Haddin to depart for 29. Quinton de Kock then walked out and passed his first innings score of seven to end on nine alongside Amla, who was dropped down the leg-side by Haddin late on, on 93.
South Africa still, of course, have first innings centurion JP Duminy to bat, with Parnell expected to do so if required. Quite how long they bat on tomorrow, though, remains to be seen, with the forecast giving Australia reason to hope that they could yet escape with a draw.
© Cricket World 2014