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Smith grinds England in Cape heat

cricket Updated: Jan 06, 2010 00:12 IST
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Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla punished England’s bowlers in scorching heat as South Africa built a commanding lead on the third day of the third Test against England at Newlands on Tuesday.

South Africa were 312 for two in their second innings at the close, an overall lead of 330.

Smith muscled his way to his 19th Test century, finishing the day with 162 not out. He shared a second wicket stand of 230 with Hashim Amla, who made 95. It was easily South Africa’s best day of the series and with two days remaining they were in a strong position to push for a series-levelling victory.

Smith and Amla took advantage of the best batting conditions of the match and England struggled as the temperature reached 37C in the shade. On the field there was nowhere for England to hide — from the sun which blazed out of a cloudless sky or Smith's powerful strokeplay.

After a watchful start, the left-handed Smith attacked all the bowlers but was particularly aggressive against off-spinner Graeme Swann, man of the match in the first two Tests, although Swann was again England’s most successful bowler, taking two for 104 in 33 overs. Amla scored most of his runs against the faster bowlers and was particularly prolific in the area behind point as he made his runs off 155 balls, hitting 12 fours.

Amla had moved ahead of Smith at tea, scoring 73 to the captain's 65 but Smith launched a ferocious onslaught after the interval and had taken his score to 133 when Amla was out, caught off bat and pad at short leg off Swann.

Even when England thought they had Smith's wicket they were foiled. On 51, he was given out leg before wicket by umpire Tony Hill when he missed a sweep against Swann.

He asked for a television review and was reprieved when replays showed he had been struck more than 2.5m out from the stumps — beyond the reliable prediction range — and it also appeared the ball was going over the stumps.

The day started well for South Africa when they needed just six overs to take the last three England wickets for 32 runs. It gave South Africa a lead of 18 runs. Fast bowler Morne Morkel took wickets off successive balls in the first over of the day to complete his second five-wicket haul in Tests. He finished with five for 75.

Morkel had the right-handed Swann and the left-handed James Anderson caught at first slip by South African captain Graeme Smith.