PRETORIA, (Reuters) – A patient century stand between Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma put South Africa in a commanding position at 223 for four at tea on day four of the final test against England on Monday.
Amla, a regular thorn in England’s side, was not out on 96 as he chases a second century in the match with Bavuma unbeaten on 63. The hosts led by 356 runs on a pitch that has turn, movement and uneven bounce.
The pair have put on 117 for the fifth wicket and kept England wicketless between lunch and tea after the touring side had made good inroads in the opening session when a fired-up James Anderson grabbed two early wickets and Ben Stokes another.
South Africa, who are likely to be down to three front-line bowlers in the second innings with seamer Kyle Abbott struggling due to a hamstring problem, must decide what target they want to set England with four sessions remaining.
They will be mindful of overworking their depleted attack as they chase a consolation victory in the test with England already having claimed the series.
The previous highest chase successful in test matches at Centurion Park was 251 by England in 2000, though the pitch was only used for two days in that match after rain spoiled the contest and the teams decided to forfeit an innings each to force a result.
Anderson had earlier taken his number of test wickets to 433, one short of Indian great Kapil Dev in sixth place on the all-time list.
He first induced a rash drive from opener Stephen Cook (25) that provided a catch for wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow and two balls later grabbed the big scalp of home captain AB de Villiers, lbw without scoring.
It was the third duck in a row for De Villiers, comfortably his worst run of form in test cricket since he made his debut in 2004.
Stokes removed JP Duminy (29) caught behind by Bairstow to leave South Africa sweating at 106 for four, before Amla and Bavuma edged the home side ahead again.
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)