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Steyn and Amla seize control at the WACA

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Magnificent fast bowling from Dale Steyn and scintillating batting from Hashim Amla helped South Africa to their most dominant day of the series so far in the third and deciding Test against Australia at the WACA ground on Saturday.

Steyn produced a devastating spell at the start of the play to claim the early wickets of David Warner (13) and run-machine Michael Clarke (5) to start Australia's decline to just 163 all out in reply to the Proteas' first innings total of 225, a deficit of 62 runs.

Amla's fiery 99 not out from 84 deliveries and a partnership of 178 with captain Graeme Smith, whose innings of 84 came from only 100 balls, propelled the tourists to an extraordinary score of 230-2 from just 38 overs by the close of play on day two, an overall lead of 292.

Rarely, if ever, has South Africa experienced a day of such complete domination – with bat and ball – against major opposition.

Early wickets were crucial if South Africa were to prevent the home side from building a lead when they resumed on 33-2 with a nightwatchman at the crease. With Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey in the form of their lives, South Africa needed their own stars to rise to the challenge – and Steyn did exactly that.

Warner snicked a wild drive to 'keeper AB de Villiers and Clarke received the best delivery of the series, a classic fast, late away swinger which only a man in such sublime form could have edged. Most would have missed it by the width of a bat.

Ricky Ponting arrived at the crease to an emotion-laden ovation in the fourth over of the day once Steyn had removed Nathan Lyon courtesy of a Faf du Plessis gully catch, but he lasted a mere seven balls before Vernon Philander trapped him lbw. His referral of the decision only compounded his desperation as television replays showed the ball to be hitting well below the top of middle stump.

Hussey (12) appeared to have survived a torrid spell from Morne Morkel until he edged the paceman to Smith at slip. At 45-6 Australia were in even worse trouble than South Africa had been on the first day but wicket kepper Matt Wade counter-attacked in thrilling style to make 68 from 102 balls with seven fours and three sixes.

Seamer John Hastings (32) also briefly threatened to push Australia close to South Africa's total but Robin Peterson claimed the final three wickets in quick succession, starting with the important one of left-hander Wade, bowled playing a sweep shot.

Alviro Petersen (23) was spectacularly caught and bowled by a diving Mitchell Johnson when the Proteas began their second innings but that merely brought an astonishingly aggressive Amla to the crease and he reached 50 from just 37 balls with a dazzling array of strokes all around the wicket.

Smith appeared, at times, to become caught up in the energy of Amla's frenzied attack and for a long time the two batsmen maintained the highest scoring run rate for a 100+ partnership in the history of the game.

The South African captain was finally, and spectacularly, caught at deep square leg top edging a hook against Mitchell Starc but the stand, scored at just over seven runs to the over, was the third fastest of any partnership in excess of 150.