On a pitch behaving as badly as Sydney's did, they need 91 runs today with all second-innings wickets intact. Although the odds are on England, the psychological impetus is with the home side, who should have been well beaten already.
Facing a first-innings deficit of 67, they lost six wickets in drawing level and were 75 for 7. But a cavalier, 74-run, eighth- wicket partnership by Rudi Bryson and Steve Elworthy wrested control from the tourists, who were left requiring 96 to win.
They faced just seven balls before, with the match already more than an hour into extra- time due to slow over-rates, they gladly accepted an offer to go off for bad light.
While Elworthy played relatively correctly, Bryson's tactics were simple - slog in village-green fashion. It drove England's bowlers to distraction with Mark Ilott, who had finished his second spell with figures of 3 for 29 in 11 overs, being hit for 35 off his next three, including two sixes.
It all detracted from the more textbook defiance of Hugh Morris earlier in the day. He had made a disciplined, courageous 57 in 60 overs.
The pitch resembled a jigsaw puzzle, with variable bounce and the ball often keeping low or flying high. One shooter did for Morris, whose 49-over vigil was ended by the Test bowler, Tertius Bosch.
Bosch, who must have a sadistic streak - he combines fast bowling with dentistry - also dismissed Mal Loye with a fortunate lbw to an ugly leg-side swing. The Northamptonshire youngster had attacked at every opportunity. Although dropped on 10 - a difficult chance to point - he continued to hook and cut enthusiastically until he, too, was done by a low one.
As Alan Wells had already been out to Roy Pienaar's first ball, attacking a rising delivery and edging behind, England were 165 for 7, just 27 ahead. Steve Rhodes, despite losing the over-eager Robert Croft to a foolish run out, then coaxed a valuable 40 runs from the tail.
Croft redeemed himself with the best catch of the tour, a diving one at point to dismiss Clayton Lambert, and added a second as Northern Transvaal edged to 48 for 2. Sixteen balls later, they were 49 for 6, Ilott and Dominic Cork sharing the wickets in a spell of tight, intelligent bowling. But Bryson upset both their length and England's hopes of two days off.
(Second day of four; N Transvaal won toss)
NORTHERN TRANSVAAL - First Innings 138 (B J Sommerville 60; M C Ilott
ENGLAND A - First Innings
(Overnight: 81 for 4)
* H Morris b Bosch 57 M B Loye lbw b Bosch 40 A P Wells c Rule b Pienaar 11 S J Rhodes not out 18 R D B Croft run out 8 D G Cork c Sommerville b Elworthy 7 M J McCague b Bryson 3 Extras (b8 lb9 w1 nb8) 26 Total 205
Fall (cont): 5-142 6-155 7-165 8-194 9-202.
Bowling: Bryson 15.4-3-53-1; Elworthy 25- 8-55-4; Van Noordwyk 14-1-34-0; Bosch 13- 5-31-3; Pienaar 3-0-15-1.
N TRANSVAAL - Second Innings
C B Lambert c Croft b Ilott 4 B J Sommerville c Croft b Dale 13 * R F Pienaar c Rhodes b Cork 22 M J R Rindel lbw b Cork 2 K J Rule b Ilott 1 J J Strydom c Wells b Ilott 0 D J Van Zyl c Crawley b McCague 17 S Elworthy lbw b Dale 37 R E Bryson c Lathwell b Cork 44 T Bosch not out 4 C Van Noordwyk c Lathwell b Cork 5 Extras (b1 lb3 w1 nb8) 13 Total 162
Fall: 1-10 2-13 3-48 4-49 5-49 6-49 7-75
Bowling: McCague 11-1-37-1; Ilott 14-3-64- 3; Cork 18.1-4-50-4; Dale 7-3-7-2.
ENGLAND A - Second Innings
M N Lathwell not out 4 * H Morris not out 0 Extras (b1) 1 Total (for 0) 5
To bat: J P Crawley, A P Wells, M B Loye, A Dale, S J Rhodes, R D B Croft, D G Cork, M C Ilott, M J McCague.
Umpires: B Lambson and S Marais.Reuse content