|Ground:||Lord's Cricket Ground, St John's Wood|
|Scorecard:||England v South Africa|
|Event:||South Africa in England 2012|
England v South Africa, 3rd Test, 3rd day
In association with Investec.
The third Test remains well balanced after the third day's play with South Africa in the second innings on 145 for three and in an overall lead of 139. The three wickets that England claimed in the final session put them firmly back in the game and while the result of the match remains open, the tourists will need to build a big overall lead which was by no means looking a certainty at close of play. Shortly before stumps, Amla brought up his 24th Test half century from 95 balls when he straight drove Stuart Broad for his seventh boundary and remained unbeaten with 57 in an excellent innings lasting two hours.
South Africa began their second innings an hour after lunch with a six-run deficit. But after putting on 46 for the first wicket in an hour and a half, Graeme Smith fell leg before wicket to Graeme Swann for 23. Four runs later, England struck again, and it was another lbw decision against the tourists when Alviro Petersen was pinned in front by Broad who brought a ball in sharply. Two balls earlier Petersen, on 24, was lucky to have been dropped by the wicketkeeper off a gloved chance.
Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis began South Africa's recovery and although watchful they showed some strokes which took one's mind back to their monumental stand of 377 in the first Test. Amla, in particular, was fluent facing both pace and spin. Anderson in one spell of three overs conceded 19 runs and was replaced by Finn. Having cut Swann for four earlier, he did the same to Anderson. He brought up the 100 of the South Africa innings with a lovely back foot drive to the cover boundary and that was also the fifty of his partnership with Kallis off 60 balls.
Although a marvellous stroke maker, Kallis was more cautious and seemed happy with singles and two's though he was quick to cut Finn for four when the paceman dropped one short. Amla played his shots freely. Hoping to get Amla's wicket fairly early, Swann, in one over, twice appealed for leg before which was turned down with the replay showing the ball clearly missing leg stump.
But after an 81-run partnership for the third wicket, England got the breakthrough they urgently required with Steve Finn claiming the wicket of Kallis for 31. It was the third lbw decision of the innings. Kallis asked for a review but it went against him. With just over a quarter of an hour remaining before stumps, when the wicket fell, South Africa sent in a nightwatchman, Dale Steyn.
Earlier, England had hopes of Jonny Bairstow, 72 overnight, reaching a maiden Test hundred but that wasn't to be with him falling just five short after his marvellous effort had lifted England from a precarious 54 for five when he came to the crease on the second day. Resuming the innings on 208 for five, England lost the first wicket on 221, straightaway after the second new ball was taken for the 81st over. Matt Prior, after adding 5 runs to his overnight 22, edged his drive to second slip. Bairstow, who was then on 80 struck Dale Steyn for four to cover point in the next over
He added 31 for the next wicket taking his score to 90 with a perfectly timed drive to the wide mid-wicket boundary and followed that with another four, steering Steyn to third man. Broad, on 16, went in Steyn's following over when he popped a lifting ball into the hands of Hashim Amla at short leg. But the big disappointment for a capacity crowd came when Bairstow, having been stuck on 95 for over half an hour during which he faced 15 balls, tried to flick a straight ball from Morne Morkel and lost his middle stump. It had, however, been an excellent innings spanning just over five hours and his runs had come from 196 balls.
England were 264 for eight and nineteen runs later Steyn completed his haul of four wickets, for 94, when he had James Anderson held at gully. Meanwhile Graeme Swann was picking up runs and had enough support from Steve Finn to add a valuable 32 for the last wicket passing South Africa's total of 309. But after taking a six-run first innings lead, England were all out with Morkel having Finn held for 10 and leaving Swann unbeaten on a very useful 37 when it was much required from his hour and a half at the crease. Morkel too finished with four wickets, conceding 80 runs.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)