South Africa's AB de Villiers celebrates reaching a century
at the WACA during the third day's play of the third
cricket test against Australia in Perth. REUTERS/Stringer
Hashim Amla scored 196 and AB de Villiers 169 in a
batting exhibition that drove South Africa to a commanding lead
of 631 runs before they were dismissed for 569 on the third day
of the third test against Australia on Sunday.
Australia were left needing to better the record for a
successful fourth-innings chase by 213 runs to record an
improbable win or bat for two more days to force a draw and
save the series.
The hosts had eaten into their target to the tune of 40 runs
without loss by the close of play with openers David Warner
(29) and Ed Cowan (nine) having survived a sometimes nervous
After the first two tests in Brisbane and Adelaide ended in
draws, South Africa only needed a third in Ricky Ponting's
last test to ensure they remained the world's number one
They will now be expected to do considerably better than that
and become the first team since the West Indies in the 1980s
and early 1990s to win consecutive series in Australia.
De Villiers said the Proteas were taking nothing for granted,
"We know we have a lot of hard work to do tomorrow, it's a
good wicket. If the test match goes the full length, they
will come close," he told reporters.
"We are not arrogant in any way whatsoever. It won't be easy.
We know the Australian batsmen are dangerous players and
won't be giving it away."
Amla's brilliant innings was one for the purists, while de
Villiers started slowly before accelerating after he reached
his fifty to bludgeon the Australian bowlers with every shot
in the book.
Picking up where he left off on Saturday when he helped the
tourists plunder 206 runs in the extended third session, Amla
got the single he needed to reach his 18th test century from
the third delivery of the day.
Peppering his innings with some sublime cover drives for a
good few of his 21 boundaries, Amla's comfort at the crease
had echoes of his unbeaten 311 against England at the Oval in
Australia's pace unit, acclaimed after ending South Africa's
first innings for 225, toiled in the sunshine looking for a
breakthrough but their best efforts only slowed the flow of
It took a brilliant catch from Mitchell Johnson off his own
bowling to dislodge Amla shortly before tea as the
29-year-old was approaching a double century after 350
minutes and 221 balls.
Johnson (4-110) found a little bit of extra pep with the new
kookaburra and when the South African drove the ball back at
him, he snatched it out of the air for a second superb caught
and bowled of the innings.
Dean Elgar was despatched lbw by Johnson four balls later for
a pair of ducks on his debut but the day already belonged to
South Africa's batsmen.
De Villiers had moved reasonably cautiously to his 50, with
the exception of one huge six off spinner Nathan Lyon that
hit the second deck of the stand at long on.
He upped the pace with a string of quickfire boundaries to
reach 89, then graduated to his 14th test century in stunning
style with three successive reverse sweeps for four, again
Faf du Plessis (27) and Robbie Peterson, who failed to score,
came and went before Johnson's fellow left-armer Mitchell
Starc (6-154) finally removed de Villiers caught behind.
The 28-year-old was clearly furious with himself for having
fallen short of the double century after his innings of 169
off 184 balls with 21 fours and a trio of sixes.
Ponting had earlier bowled one last test match over at the
cost of three runs to huge applause from the 13,000 crowd at
the WACA, but the chance of finishing his career with a
victory was surely gone.
The 418 scored by West Indies against Australia in 2003 was
the highest successful fourth innings run chase in test
cricket, while South Africa scored 414 to win the
corresponding test at the WACA four years ago.
"It's just batting session by session. We've got to believe
we can do it," said Australia coach Mickey Arthur, who was in
charge of South Africa in that 2008 test.
"We've got to believe we can bat for two days. It's a new
ball wicket. If we get through the new ball, you never know
what might happen."