Proteas batsmen in-form

Amla, Kallis and Rudolph hit half centuries against Kent

Last updated: 15th July 2012  

 Northeast Sam Kent

Sam Northeast: Scored 54 not out in the second innings as Kent drew with the tourists

Hashim Amla South Africa

Hashim Amla: top-scored for the tourists with 77 before retiring against Kent

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Three middle-order half-centuries against Kent ensured South Africa's batsmen will head to The Oval with confidence intact and crease time under their belts.

The tourists completed preparations for the first Test against England with a routine stalemate at Canterbury.

An uninterrupted final day of three was not enough to open up the possibility of anything other than a draw as the Proteas' 314 all out gave them a 104-run lead, and then young Kent openers Sam Northeast (54 not out) and Daniel Bell-Drummond (48no) followed their first-innings stand of 81 with an unbroken 105 second time round.

Theirs was undoubtedly the best batting of the match, against a world-class attack - albeit one going gently through the gears on a stodgy pitch, with much bigger assignments in the offing.

For South Africa, none of the top seven were dismissed for single-figures; Hashim Amla (77) and Jacques Kallis (54) both retired after a century stand for the third wicket, and Jacques Rudolph (50) ensured the necessary extra substance.

Often watchful

From an overnight 108-2, Amla and Kallis were often watchful on Sunday morning on a slow surface still offering occasional low bounce.

But Amla pulled Charlie Shreck and then cut him for successive boundaries - his seventh and eighth, to go to his 50 from 99 balls.

When off-spinner Adam Riley was introduced, Kallis was in no mood to let him settle.

He drove him for three fours in his first over, to bring up his half-century with his ninth boundary from 66 balls.

But Riley might have had him on 44, when Kallis yorked himself as he advanced but was saved when wicketkeeper Sam Billings could not gather the awkward take required to complete the stumping.

Amla and Kallis' double retirement was followed, shortly before lunch, by AB de Villiers' mis-pull at Matt Coles and a well-judged catch on the square-leg boundary by Bell-Drummond.

Stretch lead

JP Duminy and Rudolph put on 57 together to stretch the lead, until the former edged an attempted drive at Ivan Thomas on to his stumps.

Rudolph stayed long enough to complete his half-century, from 114 balls, only to then fall immediately to a return catch to Riley.

Then when Morne Morkel was last out, South Africa did not take up the notional option of sending either Amla or Kallis back out again - choosing instead to see what damage they could do with the ball in the 32 overs remaining.

It turned out to be very little, Bell-Drummond and Northeast both convincing in defence and attack. They had little trouble with Morkel and Vernon Philander's new-ball spells, and then Bell-Drummond crunched Kallis for three back-foot boundaries in his first over - including a memorably dismissive pull, flicked aerially well in front of square.

The belated introduction of South Africa's number one strike bowler Dale Steyn was greeted with a lordly boundary past cover first ball from Northeast.

Bell-Drummond appeared particularly at ease with pace on the ball. But when South Africa turned to spin, Northeast was the more adventurous and reached his half-century from only 62 balls by lofting an on-drive off Imran Tahir for his seventh four.

There was not quite enough time for Bell-Drummond to reach his 50 before the draw was confirmed an hour early, but Kent did manage to get their noses just back in front.