Hashim Amla leads spirited fightback

CAPE TOWN. — Hashim Amla led a spirited fightback as South Africa ended the third day on 353 for three against England in the second Sunfoil test at PPC Newlands in Cape Town yesterday.

Amla, leading from the front, ended the day on 157 not out, his first century in over a year.

Amla and Faf du Plessis shared in a fourth-wicket stand of 85 to guide the hosts to the close after AB de Villiers and Amla had added 183 for the third wicket.

“The senior players want to score and contribute more. It is important for us to lead from the front. Hash put in a lot of hard work in the nets and it was a big step up for him and AB. It’s important to spend time in the middle and get your confidence back,” stated Du Plessis.

Amla and De Villiers began the third day with the total on 141 for two and their partnership on 56 and facing a mountain to climb.

De Villiers looked to take the game to the tourists and offered a few half-chances but survived and carried the side through to lunch at 199 for two.

South Africa added less than 100 runs in all three sessions but the importance of only losing a single wicket in the day was instrumental in the building of the confidence of the team.

“That was massive for us today, getting into the game like we know we can. It was a real solid performance!” Du Plessis said after the day’s play.

Amla had been dropped twice, once on 76 by Jimmy Anderson off Joe Root (5-2-12-0) and then on 120 by Nick Compton off Steven Finn (26-3-82-1) but Anderson redeemed himself later on when he managed to hold onto a catch at square leg off Finn to dismiss De Villiers for 88.

“It was difficult to see the ball sometimes because the crowd is very colourful so it makes seeing the ball difficult at times,” stated Steven Finn.

Once De Villiers departed, Amla went into his shell, making sure that he held his end up and guided his team from the front.

Du Plessis, who has been in terrible form of late, found purchase and brought up his third half-century at Newlands to end the day on 51 not out and needs just 18 more runs to post his highest test score at Newlands.

“I wish we had some Tipex so that we can erase that Indian tour. Australia and England lost in those conditions. It’s been a confidence issue as we lacked the confidence after that tour. This wicket is good and it is important for me to go out there tomorrow and make a big score,” said Du Plessis.

“It’s not a problem that we don’t go out there and score at five runs to the over. If we just go out there tomorrow and bat well, it will be a big win for us,” added Du Plessis.

England, who won the toss and elected to bat first, amassed 629 for six declared thanks to a record-breaking innings from Ben Stokes, who smashed 30 boundaries and 11 maximums before being run out for 258 while Jonny Bairstow scored his maiden test ton before ending on 150 not out.

“We we’re behind the 8-ball on the first day. We didn’t bowl as well as we would have liked as they took our young attack on,” said the South African T20 captain.

The pair shared in a record stand for the sixth-wicket, posting 399 off 346 deliveries while Stokes posted the highest score by a No 6 batsman and the partnership being registered as the highest for the sixth-wicket in the history of the game. — AFP.

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