Smith hundred puts Proteas in front
Graeme Smith’s 20th Test century, his second in as many innings, took South Africa past England’s first-innings total before an apocalyptic thunderstorm ensured a second rain-shortened day at the Wanderers.
Further prolonged showers in Johannesburg now appear England’s most realistic chance of holding onto their 1-0 advantage in this final Test of four after Smith and Hashim Amla added 165 for the second wicket today.
That would, of course, represent a fortuitous escape for the tourists who showed no lack of effort in the 51.2 overs possible today - 3.5 of which came in a 15-minute evening session after a 200-minute rain delay.
England can consider themselves unfortunate, though, not to have seen the back of Smith in the fourth over of the day when he was 90 shy of his eventual 105.
The left-hander slashed at a wide Ryan Sidebottom delivery and England instinctively appealed as the ball travelled through to wicketkeeper Matt Prior, only for umpire Tony Hill to rule not out.
The tourists immediately reviewed the decision and English television replays broadcast a clear noise as the ball passed Smith’s bat, which was well away from his body.
However, third umpire Daryl Harper only had the benefit of the host broadcaster’s replay, which carried insufficient sound for him to change the original decision.
Reprieved, Smith continued his habit of scoring big runs against England as his side constructed a 35-run first-innings advantage with eight wickets in hand.
He departed a quarter of an hour before the downpour when Sidebottom finally got his man, caught by Strauss at a lone slip, having faced 187 balls and struck 16 fours.
The rain arrived with South Africa 208 for two and they added seven more in the short session at the end of the day to close with Hashim Amla unbeaten on 73 from 132 balls, including eight fours, and Jacques Kallis seven not out.
South Africa this morning resumed on 29 without loss as play began half an hour early after fewer than 60 overs were possible due to rain yesterday afternoon.
England got the early breakthrough they sought when Stuart Broad had Ashwell Prince caught by Graeme Swann at second slip for 19 from 48 balls, including three fours, with the score on 36.
Under sunny skies and on a pitch still offering extra bounce, Smith brought South Africa’s fifty up with a streaky edged four through backward-point off Broad.
However, Smith and Amla began to look more assured and find the rope with increasing frequency as the pitch flattened out in the intense heat.
Smith went to a half-century, from 101 deliveries, and heralded his side’s hundred with his second four in three balls to leg off Broad.
The pair continued to accumulate steadily against all four of England’s frontline bowlers and their century alliance came courtesy of Smith’s slog-swept four off Swann.
Soon after, Amla went to his fifty, from 71 deliveries, with a driven four off James Anderson that Alastair Cook should have stopped at extra cover.
Broad put in a testing spell after lunch, taken at 160 for one, and was unfortunate when Amla’s leading edge, on 56, fell at a vacant mid-on.
But South Africa moved into the lead thanks to Smith’s thick outside edge for four off Anderson and the skipper soon went to three figures by cutting Sidebottom through the same region.
South Africa’s 200 shortly followed, as did Smith’s wicket and the rain at 14.10 local time.
When the elements relented, the fast-drying outfield allowed for an astonishing 17.30 restart given the volume of water that had fallen.
The only meaningful action before bad light stopped play came when Kallis inadvertently edged Broad for two just out of the reach of Anderson at gully.
In doing so, Kallis reached the seven runs he needed to become the second batsman, after Ricky Ponting, to score 1000 Test runs on four grounds.