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Rediff News  All News  » Cricket » South Africa close in on England win after Amla's 311

South Africa close in on England win after Amla's 311

July 23, 2012 00:23 IST

Hashim Amla hit the highest Test score by a South African, an unbeaten 311, to put his side within sight of a crushing victory over England on the fourth day of the first Test at the Oval on Sunday.

At the close, England were 102 for four in their second innings, still trailing by 150 runs.

- Scorecard

Jacques Kallis stroked an unbeaten 182, his 43rd Test century, as South Africa posted a commanding 637 for two before declaring at tea. Amla surpassed the previous record of 278 by teammate AB de Villiers.

- Amla makes history

The batsmen's marathon effort were then supported by the bowers as England lost Alastair Cook (0), Jonathan Trott (10), Kevin Pietersen (16) and Andrew Strauss (27) before the close.

- Graeme Smith joins elite club with 25th Test ton

Cook edged a probing ball on off stump from Vernon Philander to wicketkeeper de Villiers, Trott fell in similar fashion to Dale Steyn, while Pietersen was bowled by a straight delivery from Morne Morkel and Strauss top-edged a sweep to square leg off Imran Tahir.

Hashim AmlaSouth Africa, who will leapfrog England at the top of the world rankings if they win the three-match series, now have an excellent chance of taking a 1-0 lead going to Headingley for the second Test on August 2. Their skipper Graeme Smith set the tone on Saturday with 131 in his 100th Test match.

Amla came to the crease on Friday at 3.07 p.m. and was still there at 3.40 p.m. two days later. He combined in a partnership of 377 with Kallis which was the highest-ever stand for the third wicket in a Test in England.

England wilted in the bright sunshine as their bowlers toiled on a lifeless pitch that was still good to bat on and showed scant evidence of deterioration. They were unable to apply any pressure on the Proteas' batsmen for the third day running, after their innings began on Friday afternoon.


Amla went past his previous career best of 253 against India, before lunch. The pace of his innings never changed as he continued to thwart England with a solid defence and attacking only when the ball merited an offensive stroke.

He became only the third overseas player to score a Test triple century in England after Australians Donald Bradman, who twice achieved the feat, and Bobby Simpson. Amla reached the 300 with a lofted cover drive for four (his 33rd) off Tim Bresnan to go to 303.

It was the first Test triple century in England for 22 years, since Graham Gooch hit 333 against India at Lord's in 1990.

Amla was embraced by Kallis and applauded warmly by the capacity crowd and his team mates on the players' balcony. Former England captain Michael Vaughan joked on Twitter that his signature beard had grown a centimetre since he came into bat.

Kallis was equally untroubled throughout his innings and he sought to raise the tempo only once he had passed his 150, striking off spinner Graeme Swann over mid-wicket for the first six of the innings.

Only India's Sachin Tendulkar (51) has scored more Test centuries than the South African all-rounder.

Kallis celebrated his century before lunch by pointing to his eyes, a show of solidarity for wicketkeeper and best friend Mark Boucher, who was forced to retire from international cricket after suffering a serious eye injury before the series started.

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