NOTTINGHAM: England will have to rewrite Test history if they are to beat South Africa at Trent Bridge after the tourists ground out a near impregnable position.
Half-centuries from Hashim Amla (87), Dean Elgar (80) and Faf du Plessis (63) helped South Africa pile up 343 for nine declared just before stumps on day three in the second Investec Test, to set a target of 474 which significantly exceeds the highest total ever made for victory in the fourth innings.
That feat stands to West Indies, who made 418 for seven against Australia at Antigua in 2003, while the ground record of a mere 284 here was down to England against New Zealand a year later.
On a pitch which has offered increasingly variable bounce to the seamers — although most often at the Radcliffe Road end only — England may do well to approach
In four nervy overs of batting after South Africa’s declaration, they at least came through unscathed on one without loss, albeit after Alastair Cook had to overturn a faulty lbw decision against him when Morne Morkel thought he was in business with the very first ball of the innings.
England bowled admirably at times, Ben Stokes especially, but had already dug their own hole with flaky first-innings batting. And despite at least stopping Amla and Elgar short of their centuries, they were powerless to prevent South Africa extending their control.
The hosts endured a tough morning, were lifted by two quick wickets just before lunch and then strove hard but struck just once in the afternoon.
South Africa were already in a position of such dominance, as they seek to level the four-match series at 1-1, that Amla and Du Plessis simply dug in as necessary before prospering again in a stand of 62.