AB de Villiers went on a six-hitting spree as South Africa moved into a dominant position on the third day of the third Test against Australia at Newlands on Saturday.
De Villiers hit 163 as South Africa reached a total of 651, a first innings lead of 442.
Australia were 102 for two at the close, still needing 340 to avoid an innings defeat. The batsmen dismissed were Phil Hughes and captain Ricky Ponting.
In an afternoon of rapid scoring De Villiers equalled the world record when he hit four sixes off successive balls from medium-pacer Andrew McDonald. The only other players to achieve the feat were Kapil Dev for India against England in 1990 and Shahid Afridi for Pakistan against India in 2006.
The previous two scoring shots by De Villiers were also sixes, against leg-spinner Bryce McGain, who was replaced by McDonald.
De Villiers finally fell to part-time spinner Simon Katich, caught on the midwicket boundary after a 196-ball innings which included seven sixes and 12 fours.
De Villiers revealed he had been egged on by batting partner Albie Morkel to go for the world first class record of six sixes in an over but had replied: ‘We’re playing Test cricket here, Albs’.
But when a fourth delivery flew into the crowd he had decided to go for the maximum again, only to be foiled by a good yorker.
De Villiers said he had tried to score quickly off McDonald to put pressure on Ponting.
“If his containing bowler went for a few then he’d have no-one to turn to,” he said.
The South African batsman said his team were in a powerful position.
“Australia will probably bat all day tomorrow and they still won’t be in the lead,” De Villiers said.
South Africa lost three wickets during the morning and struggled against tight Australian bowling until a flurry of scoring shortly before the lunch break took the total beyond 500.
De Villiers and new cap Albie Morkel then thrashed the bowlers in a seventh wicket stand of 124 scored in 85 minutes off 120 balls. The left-handed Morkel was bowled by McDonald for 58, made off 71 balls with 10 fours and a six.
Morkel was bowled in the same over that De Villiers hit his four sixes, which he followed with a single before Morkel hit across the line and missed.
Captain Jacques Kallis failed to add to his overnight score of 102 before a lifting delivery looped off the splice of his bat to provide an easy return catch for Ben Hilfenhaus.
Mitchell Johnson then produced his best spell of the match to dismiss JP Duminy and Mark Boucher cheaply.
Johnson finished with four for 148 and Katich, introduced towards the end of the innings, took two for nine.
Katich’s figures were in stark contrast to the none for 149 off 18 overs by leg-spinner Bryce McGain, playing in his first Test.
Peter Siddle, who was Australia’s most impressive bowler despite taking only one wicket, conceding just 67 runs in 35 overs, admitted: “This time they had it over us. We’ve got to bat time, stay positive and stay patient.”
Hughes and Katich made an aggressive start to the Australian second innings, putting on 57. But Hughes was out for the second time in the match in the first over bowled by left-arm spinner Paul Harris, edging a catch to slip.
Ponting was then caught behind off Dale Steyn for 12, three balls after he survived a referral by the umpires when Harris claimed a catch at gully off the fast bowler. Replays indicated the ball bounced just short of the fielder.