By Nick Said
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa will head to their favourite ground with momentum in their favour when they take on Australia in the series-deciding third test at Newlands, batsman Hashim Amla said on Tuesday.
The Proteas have suffered just one loss in Cape Town in 12 years, to Australia in 2006, a run of 16 matches at a venue where crowds are traditionally good and the wicket conducive to positive results.
"Newlands has been a happy ground for the Proteas over the last few years but Australia is a good team," Amla told reporters ahead of the match which starts on Saturday.
"There is a lot riding on the last game and fortunately we have momentum and that is what we are going to try and take into the match. Going into the last test it will be important to assess the conditions as soon as we can."
Australia's last two visits to Cape Town, in 2009 and 2011, resulted in defeats by an innings and 20 runs, and eight wickets. Three years ago they were bowled out for 47 in their second innings.
South Africa's thumping 231-run victory in the second test following an equally decisive 281-run loss in the first game in Pretoria left the series on a knife-edge.
Amla, who scored an elegant hundred in the second innings in Port Elizabeth, said the squad felt they were now playing much better cricket.
"Players got hundreds and the bowlers bowled well, it's a better situation to be in going in one-all, having won the second test," he said.
Captain Graeme Smith spoke of his side's character and resilience in adversity after the Port Elizabeth win and Amla said they had learnt how to get positive results from losing positions.
"Over the last few years we've had quite a few fight-backs. I say fight-backs to win the test as well as fight-backs to hold on to the draw like the matches at the Wanderers (against India) and Adelaide (against Australia)," Amla said.
"Over the last few years there have been some really memorable test matches and this last one (in Port Elizabeth) is one of them because we came out on top."
Amla's unbeaten 127 in the second test took him back to number two in the International Cricket Council's rankings for test batsmen behind compatriot AB de Villiers.
(Reporting by Nick Said; editing by Ed Osmond; firstname.lastname@example.org )