|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v South Africa|
|Player:||JH Kallis, HM Amla, GC Smith|
|Event:||South Africa in England 2012|
England v South Africa, 1st Test, 3rd day
In association with Investec.
To put it quite simply, the third dayís play in the first Test was a tale of two wonderful centuries, a little contrasting in style but equally effective in putting the match beyond England. At stumps, South Africa were in a commanding position 403 for two, leading by 18 runs on the first innings. Hashim Amla was unbeaten on 183 after a marathon nine hours at the crease and Jacques Kallis was 82 not out after an unbroken stand of 143.
Graeme Smith, played a captainís innings which was paced superbly with patience as well as acceleration throughout his innings. In the process he achieved the landmark of scoring a hundred on his hundredth official Test match, only the seventh player to do so. The other six renowned batsmen were, Colin Cowdrey, Gordon Greenidge, Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Alec Stewart and Ricky Ponting.
The other century, sublime in quality and punctuated with wristy strokes came from Amla, who along with Smith put on 259, a record for South Africa against England for the second wicket. While Smith registered his 25th Test hundred, his partner proceeded to his fifteenth as the two dominated almost two entire sessions of play having continued their partnership from the previous day when they had batted together for nearly two-and-a-half hours Just how sensibly Smithís innings was constructed was illustrated in the varied tempo. The first 50 runs came form 160 balls when he needed to consolidate the innings and when that had been done he speeded along to his next 50 from just 41 balls.
Amla gave excellent support to his captain and as he was on 47 overnight he soon brought up his half century in the fourth over of the day. Smithís half century was his slowest in Tests, coming from 160 balls, which beat his previous slowest, against Sri Lanka in Galle in 2004 when he took 142 balls. But on this occasion when he did decide to hit out, he did so in no uncertain terms. When he took his score to 79 he had hit six fours from 14 balls faced, three off Graeme Swann and three off Stuart Broad. The 150 of their stand came from 323 balls and Smith took his score to 83 steering Ravi Bopara to the third man boundary. He reached three figures with some panache when he square drove Tim Bresnan to the point boundary on the stroke of lunch with Amla on 80.
Amla scored the required 20 runs for his hundred quickly after the break from 19 balls which included three boundaries. The second of which he swept for four off Swann and later steered James Andersonís first ball to third man to reach 99. A single to third man took him to his hundred, from 199 balls, to the obvious joy of his captain and the two seemed to settle again to grind the England bowling into the ground. Smith, who had taken 58 balls to score ten runs at the start of the second session, went on to 125 with three consecutive fours off Stuart Broad. The second new ball, taken immediately it became due, had made little difference to either batsman and Broadís four overs with it were hit for 21.
Finally, Smithís superb innings of 131 from 273 balls came to an end shortly before tea. He was unlucky to have got an inside edge to a ball from Bresnan which went on to his pad, then to the ground before bobbling on to the stumps. Just as well for England, as they seemed unlikely to get him out in a more conventional manner. It had been a solid stand lasting over six hours and making the England bowling look totally innocuous albeit on a pitch on which batting would have been a joy.
Amla, distinctive with a prominent long beard, went on to form another fine partnership with the experienced Kallis. While Amla, who was on 124 at Smithís dismissal, progressed to 150 with a lovely drive to the extra cover boundary off Swann, Kallis then moved on to 37 taking ten runs in an over from Bresnan. It included to successive fours the second of which was an elegant cover drive and his 56th Test half century came patiently in two hours at the crease, off 94 balls.
South Africa kept piling on the runs with Amla and Kallis putting on 100 from 205 balls. The 400 of the innings came in the penultimate over of the day with Kallis taking a boundary at mid-off. The scoring rate dropped as they seemed intent on keep the wickets intact towards the end of the day and then no doubt will aim for a large enough first innings lead on the fourth day to put pressure on the England second innings.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)