Victory hopes recede further for England as rain halts play against South Africa

 

Hopes of an improbable series-levelling England victory were ever more remote after South African resistance and bad weather halted home progress at Headingley.

England could turn their 351 for five into only 425 all out - despite the best efforts of Matt Prior (68) - and then there was time between the storms for only 17 fruitless overs against openers Graeme Smith and Jacques Rudolph on day four of the second Investec Test.

Twice in less than five hours, downpours deposited lakes on the outfield, and South Africa closed on the safety of 39 for none, with a lead of 33.

The window of opportunity was already narrow at the start of play for England to properly consolidate Saturday's Kevin Pietersen-inspired fightback, with bat and then ball.

Those chances receded almost immediately when they lost their centurion to just the second ball of the day, without addition to his overnight 149.

Pietersen pushed forward in defence but missed and was lbw to Morne Morkel - revenge for the fast bowler after the mauling he took from England's number four last night.

Prior continued the counter-attack nonetheless with a Pietersen-style rush of boundaries, four among 23 runs off 13 deliveries.

But Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad could add only 10 between them, respectively caught at slip off a good ball that held its line from Vernon Philander and mispulling Imran Tahir to be well held by substitute fielder Faf du Plessis.

Prior was still able to pass an important 66-ball half-century, which ensured Pietersen's very good work was not entirely squandered.

James Anderson helped the wicketkeeper poke England's noses in front, before Prior holed out sweeping at Tahir (three for 92).

Then Anderson missed an attempted slog-sweep in the same over from the leg-spinner, as Tahir followed his earlier toils by taking the last three wickets in 13 balls shortly before lunch.

England's prospects of putting South Africa's second innings under pressure were enhanced by injury niggles for key batsmen.

They meant opener Alviro Petersen (hamstring strain) and all-rounder Jacques Kallis (back spasm) could not bat in their preferred positions, having not taken the field this morning.

Smith, who hurt himself retrieving a three last night, was fit to bat - but with strapping on his sore left knee.

Rudolph was the captain's makeshift opening partner, and the left-handed pair were largely untroubled if subdued to withstand all that England's four-man pace attack could muster against them.

A surface which had begun yesterday to offer variable bounce did no such thing for Anderson, Broad, Bresnan and Steven Finn.

They passed the bat regularly, but when the edge was found - most often Rudolph's - the ball invariably went to ground long before it reached the slip cordon.

So it was that even the most optimistic of England supporters must know something extraordinary will be required tomorrow for their team to have any chance of series victory when they head to Lord's next week for the final Test.

PA

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone