NOTTINGHAM, England, July 16 (Reuters) - Watchful batting by Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla allowed South Africa to extend their lead to 290 in the second test on Sunday but two quick wickets before lunch gave England a faint hope of forcing their way back into the match at Trent Bridge.
South Africa resumed on 75-1 on the third day, with Amla on 23 and Elgar 38, and the pair put on 135 for the second wicket — the first time they have shared a three-figure partnership in 27 attempts — before Elgar was caught by Jimmy Anderson fending off a short ball by Ben Stokes for 80.
Although the dangerous Amla remained unbeaten on 61 as South Africa reached 160-3, Anderson then brought a new dynamic to proceedings by having Quinton de Kock caught behind for one.
With the conditions continuing to make batting difficult, England knew they had to take early wickets and they will rue the basic error that allowed Amla to escape at 91-1 when they failed to review an edge to the keeper off Stuart Broad.
Neither bowler nor keeper looked convinced but television replays picked up the slightest of edges, giving Amla the chance to make England pay by passing his second fifty of the match.
Elgar also offered a sharp early chance to Anderson in the gully, again off Broad, but the Lancashire paceman just failed to cling on.
England captain Joe Root rang the changes on the hour, bringing Mark Wood and Ben Stokes into the attack, and he was eventually rewarded when Stokes hurried Elgar into his error.
But it may prove too little too late for England, whose batsmen had failed to match the application shown by Elgar and Amla in similarly tricky conditions on Saturday.
England lead the four-test series 1-0. (Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Clare Fallon)