Amla, Smith guide SA to 292-run lead in 3rd test

Michael Clarke

Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith clobbered Australia's bowling attack Saturday in one of the quickest century stands ever in test cricket to seize control for South Africa after two days of the series-deciding match.

The 178-run second-wicket partnership made a mockery of the seemingly hostile conditions for batsmen on a WACA pitch that had delivered 21 wickets by the second over of the sixth session.

South Africa was dismissed for 225 on day one and skittled Australia for 163 before tea on day two.

Smith and Amla combined after Alviro Petersen (23) was out in the first over of Saturday's last session and scored at 6.98 an over before Smith was out for 84. Amla was unbeaten on 99 and Jacques Kallis was not out 17 to help lift the tourists to 230-2 at stumps, an overall lead of 292.

Three extraordinary catches led to wickets on the second evening. Alviro Petersen took a hopping, juggling catch on the long-off boundary rope to remove John Hastings and end the Australian innings 22 minutes before tea, and then lost his own wicket when Mitchell Johnson sprinted almost the length of the pitch to pouch an athletic return catch that lobbed off the shoulder of the South African opener's bat in the first over after tea.

The Amla-Smith stand finally ended when the South Africa skipper pulled Mitch Starc over square leg and Nathan Lyon ran in from the deep to grasp a diving catch millimeters above the ground.

After draws in the first two tests, this test – hich will decide not only the series but the world No 1 ranking – is headed for a result. After a dozen wickets tumbled on the opening day, another 10 fell on day two after Australia resumed at 33-2. Dale Steyn took a pair of wickets in the second over Saturday, triggering a collapse in which Australia slumped to 45-6, and returned 4-40 for the innings, belatedly making his mark on the series.

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