x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Hashim Amla reaches historic triple century against England

Along with Jacques Kallis' unbeaten 182, the duo pulverise the hosts who face a battle to play out the final day with six wickets in hand.

Hashim Amla of South Africa celebrates reaching his double century during day four of the first Test against England at The Oval. Gareth Copley / Getty Images
Hashim Amla of South Africa celebrates reaching his double century during day four of the first Test against England at The Oval. Gareth Copley / Getty Images

England face a tense battle to save the first Test today after Hashim Amla became South Africa’s first triple-centurion in his record run-fest alongside Jacques Kallis.

Amla made history several times over on day four at The Oval, most notably when he surpassed teammate AB de Villiers’s 278 not out – the previous highest Test innings for a South African – and then passed 300 before a teatime declaration on 637 for two.

England therefore needed to bat out the remaining four sessions, from 252 in arrears, to avoid going 1-0 down with two to play

in defence of their world No 1 status. After losing first-innings centurion Alastair Cook for a duck in the second over, they scrambled to a vulnerable 102 for four at stumps.

On a day when the home bowlers were on the wrong end of all the records and statistics, Amla (311 not out) and Kallis (182 not out) shared the highest third-wicket stand in England.

Their unbroken partnership of 377 – following the 259 Amla put on with Graeme Smith for the second wicket – powered the tourists into an ominous position.

On a slow pitch yet to show much signs of wear, Amla had spent more than 12-and-a-half hours by the time he just cleared extra-cover off Tim Bresnan to complete his 300 with his 35th four from the 515th delivery he faced.

Kallis was no slouch either, pressing on for his 43rd Test century and towards what could have been his third double, as England’s fruitless labours continued under a mocking sun. He reached his hundred with a controlled edge wide of slip off Bresnan for his 13th four from 227 balls.

When England’s batsmen tried again, Vernon Philander found the movement which had evaded the home seamers to take the edge behind as Cook pushed forward.

If England could nominate their two best hopes of batting out the draw, Cook and Jonathan Trott would surely head the list. But both were out of the equation when the number three also got a useful delivery from Dale Steyn, which appeared to be snaking in but held its line for another edge and De Villiers’s seventh catch of the match.

Morne Morkel’s tactic of testing Kevin Pietersen with the short ball brought three pulls and three fours. But Pietersen still could not survive an impressive spell and a straight ball knocked out his middle stump.

Then Strauss fell to his release shot, mis-sweeping Imran Tahir straight to backward square-leg.

But Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara closed out the session, and England lived to fight another day.

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