Smith makes most of reprieve

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The Independent Online

England were tonight nursing an apparent sense of injustice after South Africa captain Graeme Smith's century put his team in charge of the final Test at The Wanderers.

The tourists were convinced they had Smith caught behind on 15 but were disappointed by the DRS outcome after the left-hander had flailed an attempted cut at birthday boy Ryan Sidebottom.

Third umpire Daryl Harper detected no audible evidence of an edge from the host broadcasters' television replay available to him.

Other footage did point to an incriminating snick. But Smith (105) survived to post 16 fours in his 20th Test century, and his second in succession against England as he and Hashim Amla (73no) shared another huge stand - to add to the 230 they put on together last time out in Cape Town.

The upshot, after a violent thunderstorm hit Johannesburg to take 46.4 overs out of the second day, was a stumps total of 215 for two.

Amla's share of the 165 put on with Smith in 41 overs extended beyond a fluent half-century, which came up in only 75 balls.

It was confirmed after lunch that England had asked match referee Roshan Mahanama to investigate the circumstances of Harper's decision.

South Africa, who yesterday bowled England out for only 180, duly pressed home their advantage in pursuit of the victory which would snatch a drawn series.

England, by contrast, are hoping to hang on to a 1-0 lead - and may be encouraged by a weather forecast promising more storms for the remainder of the match.

They needed no help from above to break an opening stand between Smith and Ashwell Prince after just seven runs had been added this morning.

Prince's unproductive series continued when he propped forward to Stuart Broad and edged a ball showing a little extra bounce to Graeme Swann at second slip.

His departure came just three balls after Sidebottom, 32 today, and his team-mates heard a sound as Smith chased a wide ball which ended up in the wicketkeeper's gloves.

Umpire Tony Hill did not, however - and crucially neither did Harper.

With Amla for company, Smith set out to make the most of his presumed fortune in what quickly developed into a damaging partnership and by lunch was into record territory for the wicket on this ground.

A pitch which predictably offered plenty to the pace bowlers on day one did so again, at least initially. But there was pace in the surface for any attacking shots too, and South Africa's second-wicket pair cashed in with a regular stream of boundaries.

The odd false shot evaded the field, and England were increasingly up against it to stay in the contest.

By the time Smith reached his chanceless hundred, it seemed likely the hosts would dictate the rest of the match - and England would need another famous rearguard, or lots of rain, if they were to win the series after all.

Sidebottom finally saw off Smith, caught at slip from one that left him off the pitch. But in itself, the second wicket altered the match situation only marginally shortly before the sticky weather broke spectacularly.

Three hours and 20 minutes later came a resumption which contained 23 balls, seven more runs and no wickets, before bad light brought an early close.