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Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Saturday, 19 December 2009

Hashim Amla century puts England on rack in first Test

First Test, Centurion (day four, close):
South Africa 418 & 301-7 dec v England 356 & 11-1
Dates: 16-20 December Start: 0830 GMT
Coverage: Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 4 LW, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Red Button and online. Live text commentary on BBC Sport website & mobiles. Also live on Sky Sports
Match scorecard

By Jamie Lillywhite

Hashim Amla
It was Amla's second Test ton versus England and his first 100 for a year

An assured hundred from Hashim Amla put South Africa in command of the first Test as England closed day four a distant 353 from victory at 11-1.

South Africa resumed on 9-1 and England claimed three wickets by lunch to trail by only 108, but Amla shared 119 with AB de Villiers who struck a fluent 64.

Mark Boucher added a rapid unbeaten 63 as the home side declared on 301-7 to set England a formidable target of 364.

Skipper Andrew Strauss then edged a sharply rising ball in the second over.

Midway through the penultimate day all results were still possible, but after dominating the morning session England saw things gradually slip away from them.

There have been only three fourth-innings scores above 300 to win a Test match in South Africa, and the highest winning total on this ground is the 251-8 England made in 2000 after the late Hansie Cronje's infamous "sporting" declaration.

At the start of the third day when a ball shot along the ground and bowled Strauss, the pitch was expected to misbehave with increasing regularity.

But it offered few demons on day four until James Anderson took the second new ball and centurion Amla was bowled with one that bounced only a few inches.

England celebrate the wicket of Kallis
England were jubilant after ousting Kallis with South Africa only 108 ahead

With Strauss departing to a Morne Morkel delivery that lifted up to shoulder height from nowhere, England will surely be battling merely for survival on Sunday.

It all began so encouragingly for the tourists, however, as they reduced South Africa to 46-4.

Nightwatchman Paul Harris, who, like Graeme Swann claimed five wickets, skewed successive boundaries to the vacant third man area, but his hopes of emulating the England spinner's swashbuckling 85 ended when Anderson bowled him off the pad round his legs.

Graham Onions then put one in the perfect area with immaculate seam position and Graeme Smith left a gap between bat and pad as he lunged forward, got an inside edge and heard the dreaded 'death rattle' of ball onto stumps.

Anderson and Onions bowled through to the first drinks break before Stuart Broad and Swann were introduced in a double change.

That soon proved effective as Broad captured the prize wicket of Jacques Kallis, who scored only four runs in 10 overs and for once lost patience, hooking straight to deep square-leg where Alastair Cook took a neatly-judged catch just inside the rope.

Amla was on 23 when he was given not out having been struck on the pad playing back to spinner Swann. England gambled on a referral but it showed that contact was made outside off-stump and they did not look like prizing him for the remainder of his seventh Test hundred.

De Villiers, meanwhile, was positive from the outset and had made only two when he danced down the wicket to launch Swann over long-on for six.

The partnership had reached 89 and the lead was approaching 200 when Onions trapped De Villiers on the pad.

606: DEBATE
Dilbert

After much consultation Strauss decided he had to gamble on his final referral and the replay was studied.

Although the predicted line of the ball showed it hitting the outer half of leg-stump, the rules dictate that there has to be clear evidence of an umpiring error for the decision to be overturned.

England therefore, were left somewhat perplexed by the application of the new system and without another appeal for the remainder of the innings.

They finally removed De Villiers for 64 when Ian Bell atoned for his sorry dismissal on Friday with a fine low diving catch off Broad's experimental slower ball.

We need to see out the first hour - Anderson

In the third over after tea with the lead 253 England took the sixth wicket when JP Duminy was given out lbw prodding forward to Anderson.

Once again it was referred, this time by South Africa, and once again the replay showed the ball clipping the stumps, but unlike the previous one, because it was given out and was not an obvious mistake, the decision stood.

But Boucher yet again played a key innings, scooping Swann over wide mid-on for six to record the fifty stand, with his contribution 40.

Morkel swiped four fours in an over off Broad as the declaration came to allow six overs and after the early loss of their captain, England will be keenly scrutinising reports of bad weather in the area.



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see also
Strauss relief after 'crazy hour'
20 Dec 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
19 Dec 09 |  England
Swann keeps England in contention
17 Dec 09 |  England
Kallis century frustrates England
16 Dec 09 |  England
Ntini reaches 100-Test milestone
15 Dec 09 |  South Africa
Past England tours
14 Dec 09 |  England
Ashes heroes land BBC team honour
13 Dec 09 |  Sports Personality
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in South Africa 2009-10
17 Jan 10 |  England


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