South Africa were 223-4 and enjoyed a commanding 356-run lead at tea on day four at Centurion.
Viewed in isolation, the second session on day four was an excellent one for South Africa. The variable bounce made batting difficult, and yet Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma maintained their composure to score 102 runs in the two-hour period. That partnership has already yielded 117 runs.
Whether it was the right approach in the context of the game is bound to be a hot point of debate. Had the Proteas taken more chances during this period, had they attempted to accelerate, they may have reached their desired target well before tea. As it was, Amla and Bavuma played carefully and showed few signs of urgency.
The Proteas are running out of time to force a result in this fixture. The dark clouds gathering around Centurion look ominous, and rain may affect the final session. Rain is also forecast for day five.
South Africa may face the added challenge of competing in the fourth innings with a depleted bowling attack. Kyle Abbott sustained a hamstring injury earlier in the contest, and may not be able to contribute. The Proteas will need as much time as possible to claim 10 England wickets and a consolation victory.
Amla has batted beautifully, and needs four more runs to reach a richly deserved century. The Proteas No 3 batsman scored 109 in the first innings.
For ball-by-ball commentary, click below:
SA 1st innings 475 – Quinton de Kock 129 not out, Stephen Cook 115, Hashim Amla 109, Ben Stokes 4-86
England 1st innings 342 – Alastair Cook 76, Joe Root 76, Moeen Ali 61, Kagiso Rabada 7-112
SA 2nd innings 223-4 – Hashim Amla 96 not out, Temba Bavuma 63 not out, JP Duminy 29, James Anderson 3-33
South Africa lead by 356 runs