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ESPNcricinfo presents the plays of the day from the fourth day at The Oval
George Dobell and Firdose Moonda at The Oval
July 22, 2012
Dedication of the Day
With Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis both starting the fourth day with milestones imminent, emotion was guaranteed. Amla reached 200 with a perfectly-placed back-foot drive and celebrated long, but carefully. Kallis was more emphatic when he reached three figures. With arms raised he soaked in warm applause and then gestured to his eye with a small nod of the head. Although Kallis had pointed to his right eye instead of his left, it was a tribute to his best friend, Mark Boucher, whose left-eye injury forced him to retire at the start of the tour. Kallis and Boucher, friends for almost two decades, were the longest-serving members of the South African squad and also live next door to each other.
Achievement of the Day
Before today, no South African batsman had scored 300 runs in a Test match. AB de Villiers' 278 stood as the tallest mountain and when Hashim Amla went past him, De Villiers was shown on camera cheering him on. It took 35 balls from the time Amla broke that record to the time he brought up 300. There were some nerves when Tim Bresnan trapped him on the pads and appealed vociferously but otherwise his usual calm predominated. The milestone came with a drive through the covers, Amla's signature shot of the innings. As he jogged down the pitch, he punched the air - a first for a usually understated man. The Oval crowd were on the feet for a full minute.
Big call of the Day
Graeme Smith has been criticised for sometimes being too conservative. Today, he went the other way. At tea, with South Africa 252 runs ahead with eight wickets in hand and Jacques Kallis on 182, Smith decided they would bat no more. He gave his bowlers four sessions to bowl England out and left open the possibility that South Africa might have to chase a small target. With a series lead at stake, it was a daring move.
Commitment of the Day
The score was 628 for 2 when James Anderson, rushing around the cover boundary, dived full length to turn what had appeared to be a certain four into a two. For a man who had bowled 41 overs - and not taken a wicket since his second - it was a fine effort. While such episodes were of small consolation, this was a day of little joy for England and such a moment at least hinted at the spirit, the fitness and the determination of Anderson and his colleagues.
Stat of the Day
By the South Africa declared on 637 for 2, England's bowlers had taken their last three Test wickets for a cost of 780 runs, in a period stretching back to the Edgbaston Test against West Indies where Tino Best and Denesh Ramdin added 143 for the tenth wicket. For the No. 1 Test side who pride themselves on possessing a fine bowling attack, that is a major stain on their record.
Telling moment of the Day:
Some England supporters argued with gateman around the tea interval after demanding their money back. Their point, as far as it was possible to tell through the somewhat inebriated slurring of words, was that they had come to watch a game of cricket but had been bored by the lack of a contest. They argued in vain. While those supporting England might have been disappointed, the pleasure of watching Amla should have provided ample compensation.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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After the tragedy of Phillip Hughes' death, this match showed that cricket and life will continue to go on. This time Test cricket dug in and got through to tea.
Josh Hazlewood has been on Australian cricket's radar since he was a teenager. The player that made a Test debut at the Gabba was a much-improved version of the tearaway from 2010
Turning your back on a system that the whole cricketing world wants a discussion on, refusing to discuss it because it is not 100%, is not good enough
After a long time we have seen an Indian team and captain enjoy the challenge of trying to overcome stronger opposition in an overseas Test