Amla ushers England towards Oval defeat

ENGLAND face a huge fight today to save the first Test after Hashim Amla’s record-breaking triple century tightened South Africa’s grip on the match at the Oval.

Amla smashed an unbeaten 311 and Jacques Kallis 182 not out before the tourists declared on 637-2 at tea – and promptly turned the screw on England’s batsmen.

All four of the hosts’ top order fell before the close as England finished day four on 102-4, vice-captain Alastair Cook going for a duck.

Captain Andrew Strauss made 27 and Jonathan Trott just 10, while Kevin Pietersen was clean bowled by Morne Morkel for a quick but reckless 16.

Earlier Amla capitalised on a batting-friendly wicket to surpass AB de Villiers’ South African record innings of 278 not out and become the first Proteas man to break the 300-run barrier.

“It was a good day for me personally and from the team’s perspective we are in a very good position,” said Amla, who took the crease on Friday with his side on 1-1.

“I’m extremely happy but I’m also humble on this occasion. Other guys at the top of the list are legends.”

England must quickly rediscover their batting form to avoid defeat in the first match of a three-Test series that will determine the world’s No1 ranked team. Ian Bell (14) and Ravi Bopara (15) will resume their tentative partnership this morning.

Amla added: “It’s a good wicket to bat on. If you do get in and find a good rhythm in your batting it makes it a lot easier.”