Proteas race ahead
South Africa took control of the decisive third Test at Perth, claiming a first-innings lead of 62 and then reaching an imperious 230 for two by stumps on day two with the last session yielding 206 runs.
Hashim Amla was unbeaten on 99 from 84 balls, having added 178 for the second wicket with Graeme Smith who fell for 84 to a stunning catch by Nathan Lyon at deep square-leg shortly before the close.
It was a second brilliant take of the day after Alviro Petersen caught John Hastings at long-off, having initially tossed the ball up and crossed the boundary before returning to the playing area and holding on.
That ended the hosts’ innings on 163, a feat achieved thanks mainly to the Proteas' pace trio of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel. Steyn returned 4-40, Philander 2-55 and Morkel 1-19 from just 13 overs.
Australia, who need to win to usurp South Africa at the top of the rankings, would have been in more trouble had wicketkeeper Matthew Wade not made a fluent 68.
The hosts resumed on 33 for two this morning but David Warner was caught behind at the start of the second over, aiming a swipe at Steyn’s loosener.
That brought the soon-to-retire Ricky Ponting to the crease to a rousing ovation, this time not misplaced like the one yesterday evening for nightwatchman Lyon who was held at gully later in the over.
Philander had Ponting lbw for four, getting one to nip back at the right-hander whose review was in vain. Steyn then had Michael Clarke caught behind with a brute of a delivery to leave his side 45 for six.
Wade counter-attacked, hooking Philander for six and then nicking him through an empty third slip for four. From there he was looking to score off most balls and the left-hander lifted Robin Peterson for six over long-on.
Mike Hussey was caught at first slip off Morkel but Wade continued unabashed, bringing up his fifty with a midwicket maximum off Peterson.
Wade went into his shell after lunch and was bowled by the left-arm spin of Peterson. That exposed the tail, but Test debutant Hastings hit three fours in a row off Peterson to offer hope.
Peterson struck twice in two overs to end the innings, bowling Mitchell Johnson before Petersen’s smart work on the boundary snared Hastings for 32.
Some streaky hitting from Petersen took South Africa to 24 without loss at tea but, after Johnson had him caught and bowled for 23, Smith and Amla ran riot.
Smith reached a 67-ball fifty with the first of three consecutive fours off Mitchell Starc, who had the left-hander lbw later in the over only for the decision to be reversed on review.
Amla’s half-century came in the next over from a mere 37 deliveries and the duo continued to make hay until Smith hooked Starc to Lyon, who raced to his left for a full-length diving take.
Lyon dropped Jacques Kallis on three at cover-point off Starc before the batsman, who ended on 17, rubbed salt in the wound with three fours in the left-arm seamer’s next over.
Amla resisted a second run to deep square-leg from the day’s last delivery to be one shy of an 18th Test ton.