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Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Sunday, 10 August 2008 18:28 UK

England set for tricky run chase

Fourth Test, The Oval, day four (close):
South Africa 194 & 318 v England 316 & 0-0

By Jamie Lillywhite

AB de Villiers
De Villiers played positively to cause tension in the England ranks

England require 197 to win the final Test at The Oval after heavy rain ended day four prematurely with them on 0-0.

A comfortable consolation win looked likely as South Africa lost Hashim Amla (76) in the third full over to stand three down and still three runs behind.

Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince also fell before lunch and when the seventh wicket went South Africa's lead was 96.

But AB de Villiers (97) and Paul Harris shared a defiant 95 until both departed within eight balls in a total of 318.

England finished the day in control and will be confident of finishing the series at 2-1 by securing victory, with weather forecasts good for Monday.

But for around an hour after tea concern began to build as the South Africans gave themselves more and more runs with which to test their hosts.

Harris, who was tested by several bouncers, took his eye off one from Andrew Flintoff that brushed his tinted locks as it thudded into the back of his helmet.

Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad
There were some anxious moments for England as South Africa fought back

His technique of shuffling across his stumps looked as though it would lead to his dismissal at any moment, but with great determination he began to find a successful method of blunting England's bowlers and made 34 valuable runs.

De Villers was hit on the grille early in his innings, but accelerated superbly after reaching his 14th Test fifty.

The lead had reached 120 when Pietersen made the first questionable decision of his reign.

Having taken the new ball as soon as it became available, he decided on only one slip and a gully for James Anderson and De Villiers duly slashed through where second could have taken a straightforward catch.

When nerves were beginning to be stretched, Harris edged Stuart Broad low to second slip where Flintoff as ever made a low catch look ridiculously easy.

Moments later, and three short of a century, de Villiers had a moment of madness when he tried to attack the persevering Monty Panesar, bowling over the wicket into the footmarks, and saw his leg-stump knocked back.

Broad, much improved in this innings, wrapped things up with his third wicket when last man Makhaya Ntini was superbly caught centimetres from the turf at third slip by Paul Collingwood.


The last three wickets had fallen at a cost of just five runs, but earlier it looked as if England would have wrapped up the match at some point in the afternoon as Pietersen's smooth ascent to the captaincy continued.

Tim Ambrose, who needed more treatment for his suspected broken left ring finger, held on to a low catch as Amla slashed at Harmison.

The attack looked nicely balanced, with bounce from Harmison and Flintoff at one end combining with swing from Anderson and Broad.

Kallis was expected to end the series with a dominant score but again he failed and departed with an average of 14.

The captain gave him a reprieve on nine when he dropped a straightforward low catch at short extra-cover, but did not have long to dwell on the embarrassment as Collingwood held another excellent low catch at third slip next ball.

Prince, who averaged 63 from seven knocks in the series prior to his final innings, appeared unsettled by the extra bounce generated by Harmison.

But it was Flintoff who dismissed him 12 minutes before lunch when Andrew Strauss held a neat catch above his head at first slip.

Mark Boucher spooned an easy catch to the gully and Morne Morkel was well caught by Ian Bell swooping forward at short-leg, but the eighth-wicket resistance ensured there would be plenty of action on the final day of the series.

see also
Jonathan Agnew column
10 Aug 08 |  Cricket
Pietersen ton puts England ahead
08 Aug 08 |  England
New era begins well for England
07 Aug 08 |  England
England v South Africa photos
10 Aug 08 |  England
South Africa in England in 2008
02 Aug 08 |  Cricket

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