South Africa captain Graeme Smith smashed 162 not out on Tuesday to give his team a 330-run lead with eight wickets left and two days remaining in the third Test as he bids to level the four-match series at 1-1 against England.
Smith put on a 230-run stand with Hashim Amla in a record for the second wicket at Newlands Stadium to lift the Proteas to 312-2 at stumps on the third day as England’s bowlers were hit to all corners of the ground.
England was earlier dismissed for 273 to trail by 18 runs after both team’s first innings.
Smith spent almost six hours at the crease to hit 22 boundaries in his 19th Test hundred. Amla collected 14 fours to make 95 in nearly four hours before edging off-spinner Graeme Swann on to his pad and to Alastair Cook at short-leg.
The Proteas captain was criticised for declaring too late in the first Test in Pretoria as England held on for a draw with a last-wicket stand. England then won by an innings and 98 runs in Durban and is currently 1-0 up with the Johannesburg test to come.
Smith hit four boundaries in one over from part-time bowler Jonathan Trott but he punished the regular bowlers too, adding 16 boundaries to score 97 between tea and stumps.
Resuming with Smith on Wednesday will be Jacques Kallis on 20 not out from 62 balls with three fours.
A South African team spokesman said the Proteas had also raised their concerns to match referee Roshan Mahanama over an incident when England bowler Stuart Broad appeared to step on the ball in the 15th over of the day. The action could be construed to be trying to alter the condition of the ball and hasten the period in which reverse swing would be possible.
Earlier, England was bowled out inside half an hour on Tuesday morning after adding 32 to its overnight score of 241-7 in reply to South Africa’s first innings total of 291.
South Africa claimed two wickets in the first over of play before Prior added 24 to his overnight tally of 52. The only two Proteas bowlers in action were Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn, who combined to take nine wickets.
Morkel got a ball to leap up off a good length and find the glove of Swann on its way to Smith at first slip. Swann had not added to his overnight tally of 5 and England was still on 241.
Next ball, James Anderson edged another catch to Smith at slip to give Morkel his second career five-wicket haul. He finished with 5-75.
At that point, South Africa led by 50 but Prior took the attack to the bowlers. He was eventually last man out for 76 in three hours, attempting to guide the ball to fine-leg for a single but bottom-edging it on to his stumps from Steyn, who took 4-74.
South Africa got off to a solid start, making 31 without loss before Ashwell Prince was trapped lbw by Swann for 15. Prince referred umpire Tony Hill’s decision, but replays revealed he was plumb in front and the ball had hit the pad marginally before bat.
Prince had succeeded with a decision review on 5 after Daryl Harper had given him out caught behind down the leg off Anderson. Replays showed he had clearly missed the ball, which touched his pad before being caught by Prior behind the stumps.
England’s bowlers then wilted in hot conditions, with Amla in particular scoring heavily on the off side before tea. He hit Anderson to the boundary at long on to bring up his half-century and followed up with a square drive for four in the same over.
There were several early lbw appeals against Smith from Swann. He was given out on 50, but the decision was reversed on referral because the ball would have gone over the stumps.
Swann troubled Smith in his first over. The Proteas captain swept and missed the first ball, then edged past slip two balls later. Smith next pulled a short delivery for four, but top-edged the fifth ball a few metres short of a fielder running to fine-leg from slip.
However, Smith and Amla took the match away from England, which is likely to have to bat for four or five sessions to save the Test.