Quinton de Kock was South Africa’s mainstay on the third morning at Johannesburg, as he converted his overnight 34 to a combative 77 not out to cement his team’s ascendancy in the second innings, ESPN reports.

Pakistan battled gamely throughout the session, picking off two scalps in Hashim Amla for 71 and Vernon Philander for 14. But, with a lead of 309 at the lunch break – more runs than their opponents have made at any stage of the series – a 3-0 clean sweep is already looming large.

De Kock and Amla had resumed their sixth-wicket stand overnight and continued to accumulate serenely throughout the first hour, making light of a pitch of increasingly uneven bounce to extend their partnership to 102. In doing so, they more than doubled an innings total that, at 93 for 5, had been in some strife when the pair had come together on the second evening.

De Kock, who is rarely shy about getting a move on in his innings, was – by his own standards – unusually circumspect as his innings progressed. He’d picked off six boundaries on the second evening but added just four more in the morning session, albeit three of those being the sort of piercing, perfect drives in the arc between mid-off and cover that mark him out as a very special talent.

Amla, 42 not out overnight, was served swift notice of how tough batting could be as this contest reaches its climax, as he was pinned high on the pad in the first over of the morning by one that nipped back in sharply from Mohammad Abbas, before being beaten outside off by a lifter from Mohammad Amir one over later.

A braced of sliced fours through third man off Amir brought up Amla’s half-century from 115 balls, whereupon he appeared to find another gear, pulling Amir smartly behind square for another boundary before bringing his cover drive to the fore with two glorious strikes to push South Africa’s lead past 250.

But then, two balls after he had dispatched Hasan Ali to the rope, Amla was undone by a lifter outside off – playing forward with the intent of a man with runs on the board and a growing lead in the bank, he was rapped on the gloves by Hasan for Sarfraz Ahmed to collect a looping edge behind the stumps. Amla departed for 71, leaving him five runs shy of overhauling Jacques Kallis’ long-term record for the most runs at the Wanderers.

Philander, no mug with the bat, contributed well in his brief stay, picking off three sweet boundaries against Hasan before being undone by a beautiful yorker from Amir – full, straight and right in the blockhole from over the wicket, and thumping his pad on a leg-stump line with his feet transfixed by the late inswing.

Score (Day 3): South Africa 262 & 303 (De Kock 129, Shadab 3/21); Pakistan 185 and 4/0  (Imam 1*, Masood 3*); Pakistan needs 373 runs to win.