Amla, Steyn put SA in firm control
A magnificent performance by Dale Steyn and a stylish 99 by Hashim Amla stretched South Africa's overall lead to 292 at stumps against Australia in the third test at the WACA in Perth on Saturday.
Amla finished the day on an undefeated 99. He catapulted the Proteas to 230 for two at the close, an overall lead of 292 runs.
Amla only faced 84 deliveries and hit ten boundaries. He featured in a remarkable partnership of 178 off 153 balls with captain Graeme Smith for the second wicket, as they batted with ruthless efficiency and attacking flair to punish the deflated-looking hosts.
Smith perished shortly before the close when he was the victim of a magnificent diving catch at square leg by Nathan Lyon off Mitchell Starc. Smith scored 84 off 100 balls with 13 fours, but it was a five-star batting performance that deserved three figures.
Jacques Kallis, on 17, will resume with Amla on Sunday.
South Africa were dismissed for 225 in their first innings on Friday. Australia resumed on 33 for two in their first innings on Saturday, but were blown away by Steyn, who captured 4-40 as the hosts were dismissed for 163.
Vernon Philander took 2-55 in 16 overs as the best of the support cast.
Robin Peterson ensured that the so-called batting tail did not wag, as he captured 3-44 to finish it off in fine style for the tourists.
Presented with a healthy first-innings cushion of 62 runs, South Africa managed to reach tea unscathed on 24, but shortly after the break Mitchell Johnson got rid of Alviro Petersen when he brilliantly caught him off his own bowling for 23 to leave South Africa on 28 for one.
Smith and Amla went on to stage an aggressive assault on the demoralised Australians, with Amla racing to his half-century off just 37 balls with five fours and captain Smith reaching his 50 off 67 balls with nine fours.
Amla and Smith took the game away from the Australians as they pounced on anything loose and such was their dominance that they reached their 100-run partnership off only 80 balls.
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For the first time in the series, Australia looked deflated and defeated. Starc took 1-76, but in ten expensive overs. Johnson finished with 1-35 in seven overs.
The off-spinner Lyon could do little to stem the tide, as his seven overs went for 38 runs.
Steyn’s double-strike in his first over of the morning on Saturday might have contributed to the Australians’ negative body language late on Saturday.
The SA fast bowler had David Warner caught behind with his first delivery of the day as Warner played a reckless drive and perished for 13.
In the same over, Steyn removed the night-watchman, Lyon, with a late out-swinger. Lyon was caught in the gully for seven.
Ricky Ponting, Australia’s leading run-scorer and former captain, received thunderous applause from the crowd of 17 000 as he walked to the crease in his final test. But Philander trapped him LBW with a fine in-swinger for four.
Michael Clarke, who scored two double-centuries in the previous two tests, was called upon to do another rescue job, but Steyn had him caught behind with a superb late out-swinger. Clarke only managed five.
From 45 for six, Matthew Wade led a counter-offensive as the hosts added 55 runs for the seventh wicket off 85 balls.
It ended when Michael Hussey (13) edged a good out-swinger from Morne Morkel to Smith at first slip.
Wade flourished against the left-arm spinner Peterson, who operated around the wicket in his first spell. The wicketkeeper-batsman hit two sixes to the wide long-on boundary off Peterson.
Wade scored 68 off 102 balls, with seven fours and three sixes. His superb attacking effort was terminated when Peterson changed his line of attack and started operating over the wicket.
Peterson bowled Wade when he attempted a loose sweep shot.
He struck another blow when he cleverly held a delivery back and Johnson attempted a heave over midwicket, only to be castled for six.
John Hastings pummelled three fours in an over off Peterson but perished when he was caught off Petersen through a smart piece of juggling by the South African opener on the long-off boundary. Hastings scored 32 off 58 balls with four boundaries.
"Dale started well with the ball this morning," South African fast bowler Philander told reporters after the match. "And then the way Graeme and Hashim batted was just unbelievable, taking the game to them, and momentum's on our side and hopefully we can keep it that way."
"Not an ideal day," said Australian wicketkeeper Wade. "We had high hopes when we came in this morning but things didn't go well."
"However, we don't feel the series has slipped away," Wade, perhaps mindful that South Africa chased down 414 to win at the WACA four years ago, added.
"Tomorrow we need to come out and execute, take eight wickets, get ourselves into a real scrap and chase whatever total they put up."
Report Day 1
SOUTH AFRICA: Graeme Smith (capt), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (w/k), Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Vernon Philander, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel.
AUSTRALIA: Michael Clarke (capt), Ed Cowan, David Warner, Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Johnson, John Hastings, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon.