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Amla steals show as England struggle
England face a tense battle to save the first Investec Test after Hashim Amla became South Africa's first triple-centurion in his record run-fest alongside Jacques Kallis.
Amla made history several times over on day four at the Kia Oval, most notably when he surpassed team-mate AB de Villiers' 278 not out - the previous highest Test innings for a South African - and then passed 300 before a teatime declaration on 637 for two.
England therefore needed to bat out the remaining four sessions, from 252 in arrears, to avoid going 1-0 down with two to play in defence of their world number one status. After losing first-innings centurion Alastair Cook for a duck in the second over, they scrambled to a vulnerable 102 for four at stumps.
On a day when the home bowlers were on the wrong end of all the records and statistics, Amla (311no) and Kallis (182no) shared the highest third-wicket stand in England.
Their unbroken partnership of 377 - following the 259 Amla put on with Graeme Smith for the second wicket - powered the tourists into an ominous position, but set the South Africa captain an awkward conundrum over when to declare. He chose time over extra runs in the bank and left himself the option of a second new ball on Monday.
On a slow pitch yet to show signs of wear, there had been no hiding place for England's bowlers. Amla, who came to the crease with the score one for one two days ago, had spent more than 12-and-a-half hours there by the time he just cleared extra-cover off Tim Bresnan to complete his 300 with his 35th four from the 515th delivery he faced.
Kallis was no slouch either, pressing on past his 43rd Test century and towards what could have been his third double. He reached his hundred with a controlled edge wide of slip off Bresnan for his 13th four from 227 balls.
When England's batsmen tried again after tea, Vernon Philander found the movement which had evaded the home seamers to take the edge behind as Cook pushed forward. Cook and Jonathan Trott were both out of the equation when the number three also got a useful delivery from Dale Steyn, which gave De Villiers his seventh catch of the match.
Kevin Pietersen had a slice of luck against Morne Morkel when he guided an edge to a diving Kallis but was put down at second slip. He still could not survive an impressive spell, forward but inside the right line to a straight ball which knocked out middle-stump to end a fretful innings.
When Strauss fell to his release shot, mis-sweeping Imran Tahir straight to backward square-leg, there were even fanciful thoughts of an extra half-hour for South Africa. But Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara closed out the session, and England lived to fight another day.