Hashim Amla reached his double-century and Jacques Kallis plundered his 43rd Test ton as South Africa continued to make England toil by reaching 514 for two at lunch on day four of the first Test at The Oval yesterday.
Amla was 251 not out and nearing his career-best score of 253 (not out) that he scored against India in Nagpur two years ago. Kallis demonstrated his usual ruthlessness by piling on the agony for England’s bowlers with a merciless innings of 125 not out.
The Proteas led by 129 runs at the interval in reply to England’s 385 and appeared to be in no rush to bat toward a declaration as the sun shone over London and the pitch showed little evidence of deteriorating.
The bowlers initially sought to squeeze the tourists by restricting their scoring options with a straighter line and conventional field placings, but Amla and Kallis, who have added 254 for the third wicket, kept their patience and waited for the bowlers to tire and then punished the wayward deliveries.
Amla reached his second Test double-century with a cover drive off Stuart Broad for three. He demonstrated a near faultless technique throughout his innings and the chance he offered England captain Andrew Strauss on Friday evening at first slip has been his one error.
Kallis raised his century and the 200 partnership with a push to the third-man boundary off Tim Bresnan.
Only India’s Sachin Tendulkar has scored more Test centuries, with 51, and Kallis celebrated by pointing to his eyes, a show of solidarity for wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, who was forced to retire from international cricket after suffering a serious eye injury before the series started.
On Saturday, South Africa captain Graeme Smith scored a dream century in his 100th Test after coming out on top in a “battle of attrition” with England spinner Graeme Swann.
Smith, who expects to become a father for the first time next week, scored 131 and although he crashed his way from 50 toward to his 25th century in just 41 deliveries, he first had to endure a challenging period when off-spinner Swann made life difficult for him, often turning the ball away from the left-hander’s bat.
His first 50 was his slowest yet, in 160 balls.
“I guess in the next day or two this will sink in,” Smith told reporters. “Firstly, to have played 100 Tests is a terrific achievement, but to reach a milestone like this is the cherry on the top — it feels great. It was a battle of attrition out there really. I don’t think the wicket has been free-flowing in any way. It is a bit slow and it was taking a lot of turn. For me, as a left-hander, Graeme Swann was a tough challenge. There weren’t too many scoring options available to me, so it was about being strong in my game plan and working through that.”