Amla leaves England reeling
England ended day four of the first Test against South Africa on 11-1 after being set a daunting target of 363 at Centurion.
By Rob Lancaster
Last Updated: 20/12/09 2:41pm
First Test Match
Centurion - Day Four
South Africa 418 (J H Kallis 120, J P Duminy 56, G P Swann 5-110) & 301-7 dec (H M Amla 100, A B de Villiers 64, M V Boucher 63 no, J M Anderson 4-73) v England 356 (G P Swann 85, P D Collingwood 50, P L Harris 5-123) & 11-1
England ended day four of the first Test against South Africa on 11-1 after being set a daunting target of 363 to win the series opener at Centurion.
Andrew Strauss failed to survive a short six-over stint, edging Morne Morkel through to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher to leave the tourists in trouble.
A battling century from Hashim Amla had earlier allowed the hosts to declare their second innings on 301-7 shortly before the close of the fourth day.
AB de Villiers contributed 64 during a crucial fifth-wicket partnership worth 119 after the Proteas, who resumed in the morning on 9-1 with a 71-run lead, slipped to 46-4.
Seamers James Anderson, Graham Onions and Stuart Broad had all picked up a wicket to leave England as the side in the early ascendency.
However Amla's seventh Test ton, which spanned 212 balls and included seven fours, put South Africa back on top.
Having done his job the previous evening nightwatchman Paul Harris (11) failed to stick around in the morning session, a deflection off his thigh pad taking a leg-side delivery from Anderson back onto the stumps.
Onions benefited from an inside edge to bowl home skipper Graeme Smith for 12 before Jacques Kallis, fresh off a century in the first innings, pulled a short ball from Broad straight out to Alastair Cook at deep square leg.
After picking up 3-26, England had ambitions of bowling out their opponents cheaply to leave themselves a manageable total to chase.
Instead Amla's gritty defiance and De Villiers' dashing strokeplay led to a further a twist in the tale of a topsy-turvy game.
Their alliance was eventually ended just before tea when De Villiers, who had survived a referred lbw decision against Onions, was well caught by a diving Ian Bell at cover off the bowling of Broad (2-58).
Anderson trapped Duminy leg before for 11 but by now England's thoughts were turning towards a draw, allowing Boucher to plunder some useful runs.
The wicketkeeper-batsman made a breezy 63 not out with nine fours and a huge six off spinner Graeme Swann, who after picking up a five-wicket haul first time around failed to manage a single scalp during 27 overs of work.
England needed some help from the pitch to end Amla's long vigil - a grubber from Anderson barely getting above shin height before flattening off stump.
Morkel blasted four boundaries in one Broad over to make an unbeaten 22 and then, after Smith decided he'd seen enough, struck a potentially crucial blow ahead of what should be a thrilling last day, weather permitting.
Strauss could do little but nick a rising delivery from the tall paceman. After taking 4-73 Anderson didn't get much time to put his feet up, as he was thrust in as nightwatchman to make sure there were no further losses before stumps.