It was a tale of woe for England’s bowlers on the third day at The Oval as South Africa’s batsmen added 317 runs for the loss of just one wicket. Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith both made centuries, while Jacques Kallis closed the day just 18 shy of his.
The tourists had begun the day on 86 for one and England would have been hopeful of making regular breakthroughs on a pitch that had offered more encouragement for the bowlers yesterday than on day one. However, they were to be bitterly disappointed as Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla took their second-wicket partnership to 259.
After a slow start in the morning, it was Smith who reached his century first, bringing up three figures in his 100th Test off 201 balls. Amla followed not long afterwards and was two balls quicker to his milestone. Neither man had really been troubled by England’s bowlers – seam or swing – throughout their innings, and both played Graeme Swann, in particular, with ease. Smith looked to move over outside off-stump so that when the ball did strike his pad – it happened only occasionally – it did so outside the line, while Amla played back wherever possible, again covering his stumps when playing forward to make Swann bowl wide at him.
Smith’s innings was eventually ended in the eighth over of the second new ball as he dragged a delivery on to his stumps from Tim Bresnan. This was to be England’s sole success for the day as Jacques Kallis joined Amla and had added an unbeaten 143 for the third-wicket by the time stumps were pulled.
Kallis had brought up his fifty of 94 balls shortly after Amla had celebrated his 150 and the pair ended the day on 82 and 183 respectively.
South Africa’s plan tomorrow, as England’s had been on day two, will be to score 550 in their first innings and try to make use of a supposedly wearing pitch to apply pressure to England on the last day.
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