Match evenly poised as England fight back
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:Newlands, Cape Town
Scorecard:South Africa v England
Player:MJ Prior, DW Steyn, M Morkel, AN Cook, JM Anderson
Event:England in South Africa 2009/10

DateLine: 4th January 2010


An enthralling day of play drew to a close as England and South Africa traded punches and counter-punches to try and take the upper hand in the Test. The English bowlers did not let the South African batsmen from making a huge score but the hosts' bowlers struck back. The English top and middle order were blown apart by a fiery Steyn and Morkel before Cook, Bell and Prior steadied the innings.


The South African side began the day with hopes resting on the broad shoulders of Jacques Kallis who was unbeaten on 108 as they hopes that he would help them cross the 300 run mark. But the English bowlers had other ideas as Onions and Anderson combined to remove the remaining vestiges of South African defence in a matter of just 17 balls. Onions got one to fizz past the bat of Kallis (108, 189 balls, 11x4) as the ball took the outside edge on its way to the keeper bringing back the memories of Hoggard delivery which removed Kallis in Johannesburg 2004-05. That was the cue that Anderson needed as the right-arm swing bowler located the right line and length twice in a over to remove a stubborn Steyn (26, 59 balls, 3x4) and Morne Morkel (0, 3 balls) as South Africa slipped to 281 for 9 in 84.4 overs. Harris got a boundary through the slips but Anderson wrapped up the innings when he trapped de Wet (0, 3 balls) leg before. Anderson finished with the outstanding figures of 5 for 63, his eighth five-wicket haul.


South Africa needed some quick wickets to begin with and they opened the bowling with Morne Morkel who had troubled Strauss through out the tour. The move paid off as the bowler was able to price out Strauss (2, 6 balls) in the first over of the English innings. Jonathan Trott and Alastair Cook brought some calmness to the proceedings as the pair added 34 in 11.4 overs before disaster struck. Trott (20, 36 balls, 3x4) dragged one back onto the stumps from Steyn and then came the sucker-punch. Pietersen (0, 2 balls) was greeted at the crease by a harmless bouncer but of the next ball the right-hander drove loosely back to the bowler who stuck out his right hander to snap up a good reflex catch. At 36 for 3 the South Africans were swarming, but Collingwood proved the ideal foil to the unruffled Cook as together they added 27 in nine overs before the break.


But after lunch the English ship was once again rocked. Fifteen balls after the lunch Morkel got one at the block-hole of Collingwood (19, 44 balls, 3x4) who over-balanced and was trapped plumb before the stumps as the South Africans were cock-a-hoop. Ian Bell joined Cook in the middle and many believed that it was the right time for the elegant right-hander to dispel any lingering doubts that he was cut out for international cricket. Bell showed abundance of patience as he stayed scoreless for 14 balls before caressing Steyn through extra-cover for a gorgeous boundary to get off the mark.


Though the second session lacked the excitement of the first session it was riveting as it was attrition at its best. Smith continued with his rampaging pacemen till the 36th over before turning to the spin of Harris. Cook brought up his fifty in 112 balls and he decided to take on the left-arm spinner. Cook employed the sweep shot against the spinner as he successfully swept Harris out of the attack who was replaced by Duminy after his six overs. The pair took the English side past tea without much damage but Morkel once again put spanner in their work.


Morkel produced a sharp bouncer to which Cook (65, 136 balls, 7x4) played half-hearted pull shot and watched in pain as the ball lobbed up to midwicket where Price took an easy catch to terminate a 62 run partnership. Morkel very nearly had Prior when the ball took the shoulder of the bat but unfortunately the ball flew over the slips to the third man boundary. Bell began to play his shots confidently as he guided a Steyn delivery outside the off stump past the heavily fortified slip cordon and then twice cut Steyn past the backward point boundary to put off the Steyn. Prior played and missed several times but he hung around gamely as he put away bad deliveries when they came along. The pair put on 41 in 11.5 overs before Bell (48, 121 balls, 8x4) slapped an innocuous delivery from Kallis straight to Duminy at point and the English innings was back on skid.


Prior was joined at the crease by Broad and the pair put the innings back on track as the pair put on 51 in 15.3 overs before Steyn broke through. Broad (25, 39 balls, 4x4) did not get onto the front foot to a fuller length from Steyn and in the end dragged the ball back onto his stumps. Prior completed a scrapping half century in 95 balls in the last over of the day as England trailed by 50 runs.