Dhaka, Bangladesh
Second Investec Test S Africa in command

Second Investec Test S Africa in command

TRENT BRIDGE, Jul 16: South Africa, secure, circumspect and seemingly bound for victory, led by 290 with seven wickets remaining by lunch on the third day at Trent Bridge as Hashim Amla and Dean Elgar guided them into a position of strength, reports Cricinfo. Barring New Zealand’s outstanding achievement in 1973, when they made 440 in the fourth innings, but lost in the process, no side has ever made 350 batting last in Nottingham. England could expect that task to be theirs sometime in the afternoon session. While they attempted to rectify their shortcomings of the first two days, criticism was easy to find. Graeme Smith, a former South African captain and a batsman who knew something about crease occupation, termed England’s first innings “glory cricket”. Geoffrey Boycott, another adhesive opening batsman of repute, was in the mood to collar anybody in his range to lecture them about defensive batsmanship. It felt a bit misleading. England had hared along at four an over as they conceded a first-innings lead of 130, but none of their top-six batsmen, with the possible exception of Joe Root, had been dismissed because of attacking intent. Whether they had been dismissed because of a lack of defensive excellence was an altogether different matter. Whatever the assessment, England were up against it as they began the third day. South Africa’s lead of 205, with nine wickets remaining, was already substantial. By lunch it had swollen by another 85. England needed wickets, and quickly, but they had to make do with Elgar, prised out for 80 with lunch 20 minutes away and Quinton de Kock, whose danger was defused an over later with only a single to his name. Elgar and Amla filled the majority of the session with serious intent. There was nothing frivolous about their stand of 135 in 36 overs (it felt slower) as they batted South Africa into a position of authority. Amla, so untroubled, might have been a prized professor at a school of meditation. Not that it was doing much to de-stress the England attack. Amla drained England by sitting in and waiting, taking boundaries from only the loosest deliveries; it was hard to remember a play-and-miss. Elgar ground forward with occasional watchful off-side drives and deflections to third man, some of them secure, some of them not. He set the tone in the opening over of the morning with a boundary in that region off Stuart Broad and raised his fifty by thick-edging Anderson low through third slip. England had fleeting chances to remove both of them in the opening forays. Criticised for their wanton waste of reviews, this time England missed one. When Broad flicked Amla’s outside edge, on 25, the only half-appeal came from Alastair Cook at first slip. Even Broad was not interested, which does not often happen. TV replays showed the slightest contact. Elgar’s escape, on 55, came in the shape of a fantastic leaping effort at gully by Anderson, who got a hand on the ball as it flashed by on his left-hand side. Hardly a chance, but frustration nonetheless. The appearance of spin sparked Amla into life. He came down the pitch dismissively in Dawson’s first over, a reconnaissance effort which brought a boundary. He took 14 off Dawson’s second over, capped by an effortless straight six to raise his fifty. He scored 38 all morning and half of them came in those two Dawson overs. Not the best time for Dawson to strike up a casual conversation with an England seamer. Statistics insist that Elgar is much more vulnerable to right-arm quicks coming around the wicket - strikingly so, with an average of 27 compared to 70-plus, and Broad in particular was desirous to take advantage. But Elgar had 80 by the time Ben Stokes added another around-the-wicket dismissal to the records. It was a good aggressive bouncer, uncomfortably spooned aside in front of his face and easily caught by Anderson at square leg. De Kock’s wicket in the following over brought England more cheer, Anderson angling one across him and finding enough movement to find an edge and a simple catch for Jonny Bairstow. BRIEF SCORE: South Africa 335 (Amla 78, de Kock 68, Philander 54, Anderson 5-72) and 160 for 3 (Amla 61*, du Plessis 4*) lead England 205 (Root 78) by 290 runs

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