London: After showing their bowling prowess on day two, South Africa displayed their batting superiority on the third day as they reached 403 for 2 and took an 18-run lead in their first innings of the first Test against England at The Oval on Saturday.
Hashim Amla hit a fluent unbeaten 183, while captain Graeme Smith made an impressive 131 to take complete control of the match. Jacques Kallis was batting on 82 with Amla when the stumps were drawn.
Kallis reached the landmark on his 92nd delivery and played second fiddle to Amla, who batted magnificently to flatten the England attack.
Amla and Smith hit centuries as South Africa reached 403 for 2 at stumps and took an 18-run lead in the first Test.
Smith, who hit 20 fours during his knock, had an unfortunate end to his innings when he inside edged one Bresnan's delivery, which hit the stumps on its way back.
Amla, meanwhile, continued his flowing touch and ensured that South Africa didn't lose any more wicket before tea. He was accompanied by Jaques Kallis who was unbeaten on 10
Earlier, Smith and Amla displayed creditable finesse to foil England bowlers in the first session of the day three.
Starting from 86 for 1, both the batsmen looked extremely comfortable in the middle and encountered all the bowlers with aplomb. Smith played a flurry of sumptuous on-drives and sweep shots against Graeme Swann. His cover-drives against Stuart Broad had the stamp of imperious authority. Amla, on the other hand, was relatively sedate and played second fiddle to Smith.
Smith reached his 25th Test hundred by smashing Tim Bresnan for consecutive boundaries. This is his 7th Test hundred against England and 5th in England.
At lunch, South Africa reached 187 for 1. Smith and Amla are batting on 103 and 80 respectively.
After the lunch, Amla completed his 15th Test century by guiding a ball from Anderson to third-man for a single.
On the first day, England piled up 267 runs for 3 wickets as Alastair Cook smashed his 20th Test century but South Africa clawed their way back into the game on the second day as Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel came good with the second new ball and restricted England's first innings to 385.
The pitch is looking flat and there is nothing much for the seamers after the ball gets old. England would be hoping Anderson and Broad will exploit the second new ball like Steyn and Morkel did.
But South Africa have a formidable batting line-up. Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers are yet to come to bat. On a flat deck, they're expected to pile up mountain of runs and then try to put England under the cosh when they come out to bat in the second innings.