Matt Prior frustrates resurgent Proteas
Friday 20 July 2012
Counter-attacking Matt Prior pushed England up to 385 all out, despite a Dale Steyn-inspired fightback from South Africa on a rain-interrupted second day of the first Investec Test.
A resurgent Steyn removed England centurion Alastair Cook, and then Ravi Bopara for a duck, among four wickets for only 59 runs this morning.
But as black clouds somehow skirted the Kia Oval, and presumably dumped their contents nearby, Prior (60) still helped England from their start-of-play 267 for three to recover a little composure and put themselves within sight of 400 when they were all out in mid-afternoon.
The long-threatened storm broke almost immediately after tea, but South Africa still had time to reach 86 for the loss of Alviro Petersen thanks to a studied and unbroken stand between Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla.
Cook (115) dug in throughout yesterday, but the game changed in two successive wicket maidens from Steyn.
The seamless accumulation of day one was replaced by England's struggle to retain control as Steyn upped the ante and then Jacques Kallis stifled resistance.
South Africa's world premier fast bowler had a point to prove, and wasted little time doing so.
In his second over, Steyn tempted Cook to drive and bowled him off an inside edge to end his 295-ball vigil.
With Cook gone, a big moment came and went for Bopara - returning for his first Test since last year at this venue.
He was bamboozled by an odd, looping bouncer from Steyn. Bopara lined himself up for the pull, and when he tried to bale out somehow managed only to offer a straightforward catch behind after the ball ran over the face of his bat.
It was a frustratingly soft dismissal, and left Ian Bell and new batsman Prior with much work to do to try to re-establish England's dominance.
They survived Steyn's spell of 5-2-8-2, only for Bell to fall in the first over from his replacement Kallis.
He might already have gone, run out by half the pitch had Petersen managed to throw down the stumps from gully. But that mattered little when Bell left a delivery from Kallis which brushed over the off bail, just enough contact to dislodge it.
It took until the 19th over of the morning for England to at last bring up the 300, Tim Bresnan doing the job in style with a flamboyant extra-cover drive for four - the first runs off Kallis, after four previous maidens.
Prior had given a chance to gully on 17, Jacques Rudolph unable to complete a diving catch low to his left off Morne Morkel.
Then Bresnan succumbed in Imran Tahir's first over, edging down on to his stumps as he tried to force a leg-break into the off-side off the back foot.
England had lost five wickets for 62 runs, since Kallis got Kevin Pietersen last night, and this heavyweight contest was very much back in the balance.
So it remained, despite a typically fluent and resourceful 75-ball half-century from Prior - completed with his ninth boundary, driven between bowler and mid-on off Vernon Philander.
The England wicketkeeper lost his chum Stuart Broad, another bowled by one that just clipped the bails - this time from Philander.
Prior went himself, edging Morkel (four for 72) behind as he looked for his trademark off-side outlet, and last man James Anderson became stand-in wicketkeeper AB de Villiers' fifth catch of the innings in the same over.
But England's last three wickets had nonetheless accrued 72 runs - a decidedly handy buffer should South Africa prosper in improved weather tomorrow, before any predicted wear in a dry batting surface becomes significant.
The tourists' reply suffered an early setback when Anderson snaked an inswinger through Petersen's defences, to the back pad, to have him lbw for nought.
But from one for one, captain Smith and Amla saw their team safely to stumps in a promising partnership either side of a near two-hour rain delay.
There was one moment of fortune for Amla on 42 when he flashed a half-chance high to Andrew Strauss' left at slip, where the England captain could only parry the ball for four - completing Bopara's blank day as his two late overs of medium-pace, like his batting, came to nought.
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
World Cup 2014: Football Manager developers predict the team of the tournament - but which England player makes it into the XI?
Roy Keane omits Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs from 'greatest' Manchester United team
Man cycles down water slide in incredible stunt video
Napoli 2 Arsenal 0 match report: Nightmare in Naples leaves Arsenal to battle giants
Transfer news: Wayne Rooney sparks Manchester United exit rumours after rejecting new contract talks - reports
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Is Facebook making us forget? Study shows that taking pictures ruin memories
- 5 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding