PERTH: South Africa, fired by a devastating spell of bowling from Dale Steyn and sustained by the batting of Hashim Amla, took a firm grip on the third and final Test against Australia yesterday to end day two with an imposing lead of 292.
Amla finished the day one run short of his 18th Test century with South Africa on 230 for two after paceman Steyn had taken four for 40 as the bowlers dismissed the hosts for 163 for a first-innings lead of 62.
Skipper Graeme Smith put on a quickfire 178 for the second wicket with Amla before departing for 84 late in the day to leave Jacques Kallis, who had made 17 not out, to resume today with plenty of time to build an insurmountable lead.
"Dale started well with the ball this morning," fast bowler Vernon Philander told reporters. "And then the way Graeme and Hashim batted was just unbelievable, taking the game to them, and momentum's on our side and hopefully we can keep it that way."
Australia had started the day on 33 for two in front of a bumper WACA crowd hoping to see Ricky Ponting score a century in his penultimate innings and drive his country towards a series victory and the number one Test ranking that would go with it.
Their hopes lasted less than 40 minutes, however, as Steyn, who took three wickets at the cost of just four runs in the morning sun, and fellow quicks Philander (2-55) and Morne Morkel (1-19) unleashed the barrage the Australians had feared all series.
"Not an ideal day," said wicket-keeper Matthew Wade. "We had high hopes when we came in this morning but things didn't go well."
The first ball of Steyn's first over dispatched opener David Warner caught behind for 13 after a fruitless TV appeal, while his fourth sent nightwatchman Nathan Lyon back to the pavilion for seven.
Ponting, welcomed by a standing ovation, managed just four runs when he was trapped leg-before by Philander, his subsequent appeal to the TV umpire having less merit than Warner's but proving just as pointless.
With their free-scoring captain Michael Clarke at the crease, Australia were still thinking about a first-innings lead but Steyn ended those thoughts with his best ball of the series.
A fullish ball that moved away at the last moment induced Clarke into an edge that AB de Villiers caught behind the stumps.
Only Wade, who scored a bright 68, and debutant pace bowler John Hastings, the last Australian out for 32, offered any real resistance to the South Africans.
Wade built a partnership of 55 with Mike Hussey and brought up his second Test half century from 51 balls by launching his third six over the deep midwicket boundary.
Hussey was removed by Morkel having eked out 12 runs in 68 balls before Robbie Peterson, who finished with three for 44 after being recalled for his first Test in four years, bowled Wade and mopped up the tail just before tea.