Test heading for a draw; the pitch has yielded 1,020 runs for the loss of 13 wickets in four days

The 23-year-old Amla was playing in his fourth Test.Just three wickets fall on the fourth day.Boje split the webbing between his thumb and forefinger while fielding.The left-arm spinner is expected to be out of action at least for a week.

CAPE TOWN: Hashim Amla hit his maiden Test century as South Africa made virtually certain of earning a draw on the fourth day of the second Test against New Zealand at Newlands on Sunday.

Amla made 149 as South Africa reached 427 for five at close of play in reply to New Zealand's first innings total of 593 for eight declared.

South Africa, which leads the three-match series 1-0, lost only three wickets on Sunday to make a draw the only likely result with one day left to play on a batsman-friendly pitch, which has yielded 1,020 runs for the loss of only 13 wickets in four days.

Chanceless innings

Amla, 23, was playing in his fourth Test. He played a chanceless innings.

He reached his century shortly before lunch driving left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori through the covers for his 12th boundary. He batted for 306 minutes and faced 242 balls.

Playing in place of the dropped Herschelle Gibbs, Amla batted on through most of the afternoon before Daniel Vettori won a lbw decision when Amla stretched forward to a ball which straightened.

His innings lasted 408 minutes and 317 balls. He hit 20 boundaries, driving fluently on the off-side and playing some wristy strokes on the on.

After playing in three Tests during the 2004-05 season, with a highest score of 25, Amla was recalled to the South African team after topping the run-scorers in the domestic first-class competition.

Kallis's feat

Jacques Kallis became the first South African and 17th player in history to score 8,000 Test runs before he was dismissed for 71.

Kallis reached the 8000-mark when he was on 60. He looked set for a big score before playing a cramped pull against medium-pacer Jacob Oram and spooned a catch to Chris Martin at mid-on.

Amla and Kallis put on 144 for the third wicket, batting for 192 minutes in 50.2 overs. Amla and Ashwell Prince (70 not out) added 92 for the fourth wicket.

Renewed hope

New Zealand was given a renewed hope immediately before tea when off-spinner Jeetan Patel had A.B. de Villiers caught at short leg for 13.

However, Prince and Mark Boucher were seldom troubled by the bowlers as they took South Africa past the follow-on mark of 394.

Prince and Boucher added an unbeaten 66 for the sixth wicket before bad light ended play with nine overs due to be bowled.

The South African team management announced that left-arm spinner Nicky Boje would be out of action for at least seven days after having five stitches in his right hand, although he would be able to bat if necessary in the current Test. He split the webbing between his thumb and forefinger while fielding on Saturday.

He is likely to miss the third and final Test starting in Johannesburg on Friday.

Indian-origin communities in South Africa on Sunday hailed Hashim Amla's maiden century. He fell one short of a 150.

`We can also play'

South Africans of Indian origin, especially in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, inundated radio stations with telephone calls and SMS, congratulating Amla for his century. "Amla has shown that we can also play the game," said Kessie Perumal, a former sports official.

"The commentators have not been very kind to Amla, saying he had all types of flaws and that he does not have a proper technique."

"But Amla has proved them wrong and they will now have to eat humble pie," said Perumal.

Another former cricketer, Christy Subrayen, said he was delighted that Amla had done so well.

"When he was first selected, the media here and some of the officials said he was not good enough.

"And after he was dropped they were delighted. But Amla took everything in his stride and improved his batting.

"He has now shown that he has the potential of becoming a top class batsman," said Subrayen. Agencies


New Zealand 1st innings: 593 for eight decl.

South Africa 1st innings: G. Smith c and b Patel 25, H. Dippenaar b Patel 47, H. Amla lbw b Vettori 149, J. Kallis c Martin b Oram 71, A Prince (batting) 70, A.B. de Villiers c Papps b Patel 13, M. Boucher (batting) 26, Extras (b-15, lb-8, nb-3) 26; Total (for five wkts. in 151 overs) 427.

Fall of wickets: 1-36, 2-108, 3-252, 4-344, 5-361.

New Zealand bowling: Martin 14-4-47-0, Franklin 23-5-60-0, Vettori 48-5-123-1, Patel 39-7-112-3, Styris 10-2-33-0, Oram 15-9-20-1, Astle 2-0-9-0.

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