x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Amla pushes Proteas to bigger lead over Australia after Day 3

Hosts expected to declare on Sunday as advantage swells past 300 runs

South Africa's Hashim Amla plays a shot during the third day of the second Test against Australia in Port Elizabeth on February 22, 2014. Rogan Ward / Reuters
South Africa's Hashim Amla plays a shot during the third day of the second Test against Australia in Port Elizabeth on February 22, 2014. Rogan Ward / Reuters

Port Elizabeth, South Africa // South Africa pressed home their advantage over Australia in the second Test as Hashim Amla made 93 not out after earlier dislocating his finger while fielding and the hosts went 369 runs ahead with wickets in hand on the third day yesterday.

Amla backed up a South African bowling attack that took six Australian wickets in just more than a session at the start to roll the tourists out for 246 in their first innings. Australia added just 134 to their overnight 112.

Already leading by 177 runs after batting first and making 423, South Africa shrugged off the loss of four batsmen to reach 192 for four at stumps, chasing a series-levelling win and redemption after a 281-run loss in the first Test.

Morne Morkel was the most menacing bowler at St George’s Park, roughing up the Australian batsmen as South Africa sought to turn the tables.

“We had our fair share of it in Centurion,” Morkel said.

Morkel and Vernon Philander took three wickets each and South Africa were in control from the time David Warner edged behind for 70 in the day’s fifth over, adding just five to his overnight score.

Morkel was hostile with pace and bounce for his three for 63 and Philander ended up with three for 68, with only Steve Smith providing long-term resistance for Australia.

“It’s obviously going to be an uphill battle, there’s no doubt about that, but I still think we can [win],” said Michael Clarke, the Australia captain. “Take as many wickets as we can and then whatever we’re chasing, bat our backsides off.”

It was the South Africans batting best, though.

Amla cruised toward a century with 12 fours and ensured South Africa did not see any ill-effect from the dislocated ring finger on his left hand when he missed a sharp catch in the morning. But the home team did have another problem with bowler Wayne Parnell pulling up halfway through his third over with a left groin strain that makes him doubtful to play any part in the remainder of the Test, batting or bowling.

Parnell limped off to go to the hospital for a scan and did not return while South Africa bowled the Australians out. Steve Smith hit eight boundaries, but no one else stayed around long enough to make any real inroads on South Africa’s strong first-innings total.

“I think they’ve [South Africa] just executed very well and our shot selections was very poor,” Clarke said.

While Australia’s quicks struggled in the first innings and took just two wickets – and went more than 140 overs without a wicket – South Africa’s seamers shared nine of their team’s 10 strikes.

Along with Morkel and Philander, Dale Steyn knocked out Brad Haddin’s off stump and Parnell’s two wickets in three balls on Friday began Australia’s slide. Offspinner JP Duminy was the only South African slow bowler in on the act, but his important wicket got rid of a hard-hitting Johnson for 27 from 23 deliveries on the stroke of lunch. That reduced Australia to 205-8 and came after Johnson had been struck on the front of the helmet by Morkel.

Johnson did some roughing up of his own in South Africa’s second innings to take 2-48, bowling Graeme Smith convincingly – with stumps played everywhere – for 14 and striking a blow on Amla’s helmet that was so hard the ball flew over wicketkeeper Haddin for four.

Siddle worked out Dean Elgar for 16 and Faf du Plessis for 24 to edges behind for his 2-53, and first-innings century-maker AB de Villiers became Johnson’s second wicket for 167-4.

But South Africa’s overall position of strength was undeniable as the lead approached 400 with two days to play and Amla settled and striking his trademark cover drives off a pitch South Africa have been in control on whether batting or bowling.