CAPE TOWN, Apr 30 (Reuters) Hashim Amla scored his maiden century to steer South Africa towards safety on the fourth day of the second test against New Zealand today.
Amla was 103 not out with Ashwell Prince on nine at lunch, which South Africa reached on 272 for three in reply to New Zealand's first innings score of 593 for eight declared.
That left South Africa still 321 runs behind, but within sight of their follow-on target of 394.
Amla, who is playing his first test since January 2005, faced 251 balls and hit 12 fours in a patient innings that easily surpassed his previous highest score of 25.
He went to his century in the third over before lunch with a drive through point for two off the bowling of left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori.
South Africa resumed on 155-2, and Amla and Jacques Kallis took their third-wicket stand to 144 before they were separated in the ninth over before lunch.
Kallis mistimed a drive off a delivery from medium pacer Jacob Oram and was caught by Chris Martin at mid-on for 71.
Kallis faced 169 balls and hit seven fours in an innings that took him past 8,000 runs in test matches.
The South Africans batted conservatively but were able to accumulate runs efficiently and scored 117 in the 37.1 overs bowled in the morning session.
The taking of the new ball as soon as it was due in the 19th over of the day also made little impact on proceedings on a pitch that has become easy to score on.
South Africa lead the three-match series 1-0 after a 128-run victory in Centurion. The third and final test starts next Friday in Johannesburg.
REUTERS PG KP1643