Proteas skipper Graeme Smith found himself another spot in the record books by scoring a ton in his 100th Test as Hashim Amla batted through the day to finish unbeaten on 183 at stumps on the third day of the first Test between England and South Africa at The Oval.
The visitors are well in control by already taking the first innings lead with eight wickets remaining as England were subjected to 98 overs of torture, managing just one wicket. It will be a surprise if the hosts manage to achieve anything more than saving this test, with just two days remaining.
South Africa, who started the third day at 87/1 - trailing by 299 runs - saw Smith and Amla score hundreds to put up a partnership of 259, a Protean record for the second wicket against England. Smith was finally dismissed - bowled by Tim Bresnan for 131 in the 88th over - but that just brought back Jacques Kallis to the crease and the veteran offered Amla solid support. The pair were untroubled and Kallis finished the day unbeaten on 82. South Africa closed the third day's play on 403 for the loss of two wickets, with a lead of 18.
Smith, who will return home before the second Test to attend the birth of his first child, becomes only the seventh player in history to mark his 100th Test with a century. This is also the left-hander's fifth ton in England.
"When I got to 100, there were so many emotions coming through, knowing my wife is giving birth in three days' time. It was a dream to achieve that. I guess in the next day or two it will sink in. To play 100 Tests is a terrific achievement, then to get a hundred is the cherry on the top and it feels great. I feel comfortable in England. It's always a big tour. I enjoy it, it brings the most out of me," BBC quoted the 31 year old as saying.
Day 4 Preview:
There is no doubt that South Africa are on top at the moment. After a lacklustre display on the first day the tourists have fought back brilliantly over the past two days to turn this match on its head. England are staring down the barrel at the moment and will need some early wickets on Sunday if they hope to save this Test in the battle to become the best Test team in the world.
Where to Watch Live:
You can follow the game live from 10.30 am BST on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 1 HD.
England: A Strauss (c), A Cook, J Trott, K Pietersen, I Bell, R Bopara, M Prior (wk), T Bresnan, S Broad, G Swann, J Anderson
South Africa: G Smith (c), A Petersen, H Amla, J Kallis, AB de Villiers (wk), J Rudolph, JP Duminy, V Philander, D Steyn, M Morkel, I Tahir
Umpires: Asad Rauf, Steve Davis