South Africa yesterday took a one-nil lead in the three-match series against England, beating the hosts by an innings and 12 runs and securing their first win at the Oval after a masterful display of top order batting.
Hashim Amla’s unbeaten 311, ably supported by 182 not out from veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis and 131 Graeme Smith took the Proteas to 637 for 2 before they declared, setting England a target of 252 to make them bat again.
But with the hosts resuming on 102 for four, England were always facing an uphill battle to save the game and despite some resistance from Ian Bell (55) and Matt Prior (40), saving the task ultimately proved impossible.
Said Smith: “This is an extremely proud moment for all of us. In the context of the first innings this is a great achievement for us. We found an intensity on Day Two and got a few more plans right. I always felt we were ready and just needed to get into the game.”
England, however, had managed to survive the first session virtually unscathed, moving to 177 for five at lunch, with the only wicket to fall that of Ravi Bopara, who was bowled off an inside edge by Dale Steyn for 22 in the seventh over.
Steyn bowled an accurate spell at the start of the day but his wicket came off a short, wide ball, which Bopara tried to punch to the off side, only to get a thick inside edge which caused the ball to crash into his stumps.