July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Hashim Amla became the first South African to score a triple century in Test cricket, leaving top-ranked England fighting to avoid defeat on the final day of the series opener at the Oval in London.
Amla made 311 not out as the Proteas declared on 637-2 in their first innings yesterday. England lost four second-innings wickets before the close and still trails by 150 runs heading into day five.
“I didn’t dream about getting 300,” Amla said in a news conference. “I’ve always been a person who never sets goals and I think that helps, because you can keep going and going without being limited. The biggest pleasure is that the team is in a really dominant position to win this Test match.”
South Africa, the No. 3 team in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings, would take over the top spot by winning the best-of-three series, which continues with matches at Leeds and Lord’s. The South Africans are the 2-5 favorites to win the first Test with England the 100-1 outsider, according to U.K. bookmaker William Hill Plc.
Amla and Jacques Kallis, 182 not out, shared an unbeaten 377-run partnership for the third wicket -- only eight runs fewer than England’s first-innings total. They came together two days ago after captain Graeme Smith was bowled after making 131 in his 100th Test match.
Amla began his innings with South Africa at 1-1 following the dismissal of Alviro Petersen. The 29-year-old right-hander faced 529 balls and struck 35 fours in a stay at the crease lasting more than 13 hours.
The previous highest score by a South African in elite five-day Tests was 278 not out by AB de Villiers against Pakistan in November 2010.
South Africa’s bowlers removed Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and captain Andrew Strauss early in England’s second innings before Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara guided the home team to 102-4 at stumps. Bell will resume on 14 with Bopara 15 not out.
“Could not have lost my record to a better man,” de Villiers wrote on Twitter. “Also a great effort by our bowlers, but lots of work ahead.”
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