LONDON: South Africa on Monday took a one-nil lead in the three-match series against England, beating the hosts by an innings and 12 runs and securing their first win at the Oval after a masterful display of top-order batting.
Hashim Amla's unbeaten 311, ably supported by 182 not out from veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis and 131 from Graeme Smith took the Proteas to 637 for 2 before they declared, setting England a target of 252 to make them bat again.
But with England resuming on 102 for four on the final day, the hosts were always facing an uphill battle to save the game and, despite some resistance from Ian Bell (55) and Matt Prior (40), the task ultimately proved impossible.
England, however, had managed to survive the first session virtually unscathed, moving to 177 for five at lunch, with the only wicket to fall that of Ravi Bopara, who was bowled off an inside edge by Dale Steyn for 22 in the seventh over.
Steyn bowled an accurate spell at the start of the day but his wicket came off a short, wide ball, which Bopara tried to punch to the off side, only to get a thick inside edge which caused the ball to crash into his stumps.
Bell was dropped by stand-in wicketkeeper AB de Villiers off leg-spinner Imran Tahir when he was on 20, with De Villiers failing to hold a thin edge in Tahir's first over of the day, shortly before the morning drinks break.
Bell and Bopara put on 50 for the fifth wicket and Bell found another useful partner in Matt Prior as the pair added 86 for the sixth wicket.
Both batsmen were caught by Kallis -- Prior off spinner Imran Tahir and Bell off Steyn, making it only a question of time before South Africa ran through the tail end.
Steyn finished with second innings figures of five for 56 after Graeme Swann lofted a drive straight down Alviro Petersen's throat at cover while spinner Imran Tahir (3-63) made sure of victory, trapping James Anderson lbw with a low ball.