South Africa survived the first session of day three without losing a wicket, but they are still 430 runs behind England’s 629.
It was the perfect start to the day for the home side as Hashim Amla (91) and AB de Villiers (56) dealt with everything England bowled at them. They showed patience and determination but also punished the bad balls to the boundary.
In the process De Villiers became the third South African to reach 8 000 Test runs. He reached the milestone and his fifty at the same time with the same shot – smacking the ball past Moeen Ali for four.
Amla needs two more runs after lunch to reach 7 000 Test runs.
While South Africa (199-2) couldn’t have asked for more, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. De Villiers offered some chances with shots falling just short of fielders while Amla was dropped on 76 by James Anderson who was standing at first slip. Joe Root was the bowler.
Amla drove hard and got the edge but the ball went too quickly for Anderson who didn’t react in time.
De Villiers edged the second ball of the day through the slips for four and you feared it might be just a matter of time before something went to hand. They managed to bat with great discipline, though, and boundaries were few and far between.
England must get credit for the way they bowled. They were much more consistent and accurate than the South African bowlers were yesterday and generally bowled fuller, just like Ben Stokes said they would after yesterday’s play.
The foundation has been laid by De Villiers and Amla, who shared an unbeaten 114-run partnership, but they will know there is still a long way to go. The luck has been on their side so far and they will hope it continues for the rest of the day.
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