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Page last updated at 16:19 GMT, Monday, 4 January 2010

South Africa seamers make England fight in Cape Town

Third Test, Cape Town:
South Africa 291 v England 241-7 (day two, stumps)
Play resumes Tuesday: 0815 GMT

Coverage: Test Match Special on BBC Radio Four Longwave, Radio 5 live sports extra, Red Button and BBC Sport website; text commentary online and on mobiles. Also live on Sky Sports
Match scorecard

Alastair Cook
England's Alastair Cook batted for nearly four hours for his 65

By Oliver Brett

England's batsmen played some poor shots but fought back to finish day two of the third Test in Cape Town on 241-7 in reply to South Africa's 291.

Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen made just two runs between them as England slumped to 73-4 on a good wicket.

Alastair Cook (65), Ian Bell (48) and Matt Prior (52 not out) slowly rebuilt the innings, but the bowlers dominated.

England had finished off South Africa's innings by grabbing four wickets in 17 balls, with James Anderson taking 5-63.

Three more wickets tumbled in a dramatic first session but England, seeking to preserve their 1-0 lead in the four-match series, looked to be recovering until Morne Morkel trapped Paul Collingwood lbw for 19 soon after that lunch.

That wicket left the tourists gasping for breath as they trailed by more than 200 with four top batsmen dismissed on a sunny day at Newlands.


However, three much-needed partnerships of 60, 41 and 51 meant England still had a chance of establishing some sort of lead - though Prior and Graeme Swann (five not out) will face a ball just 10 deliveries old on the third morning - and thus far the new, hard ball has proved a dangerous proposition for batsmen.

When play started 15 minutes early on Monday, England's bowlers had a ball that was barely three overs old at their disposal, and they used it quite brilliantly.

With the second delivery of the day, Graham Onions bowled a terrific, fast leg-cutter at Jacques Kallis which South Africa's star batsman could only edge to Prior having failed to add to his overnight 108.

Anderson then got seriously busy, striking with his first ball, the seventh of the morning, as Dale Steyn edged to a diving Jonathan Trott at fourth slip.

Cook hopes England can close gap

Three balls later he got one to jag away from the left-handed Morkel, Swann diving full length to take the catch at second slip, and the man from Burnley wrapped up the innings with his seventh delivery as Friedel de Wet was beaten by an inswinger and adjudged lbw.

It had taken just 17 balls for England to take South Africa's last four wickets, but the wicket-taking vibe was swiftly picked up by Morkel and Steyn on a perfect summer's day in Newlands widely predicted to be tailor-made for batting.

Strauss, playing with the freedom of man who scored 1,172 runs in 2009, was a bit too confident. Aiming a drive at a wide ball nipping away from him, the last ball of the first over, his thin nick was caught by wicketkeeper Mark Boucher.

Morne Morkel
Morkel led South Africa's bowling attack well in Cape Town

Cook and Jonathan Trott made steady, largely untroubled progress as the new ball gradually softened and consequently moved off the seam less.

But they could not reach the sanctuary of lunch unscathed as Steyn, surprisingly not called upon to open the bowling, took two wickets in his third over.

First Trott, defending on the back foot to a ball he could have allowed to pass over the stumps, saw the ball crash onto his stumps off an angled bat. Then Pietersen lasted just two deliveries, coming forward to a straight, full-length ball but playing too early and knocking a catch back to the bowler - which Steyn took well, one-handed, to his right.

Cook's stand with Collingwood lasted 11.3 overs either side of lunch, with 37 runs added. Once again, neither man looked inconvenienced until the next wicket fell - Collingwood missing a straight ball from Morkel, possibly defeated by pace, the ball thudding into his pads in front of middle stump.

Uneven wicket thrills Kallis

There was some pace and bounce in the wicket but it seemed curious that the bowlers were dominating. Then England achieved a more meaningful stand, through Bell and Cook, the two centurions in England's victory in Durban in the previous Test.

Bell's innings was patience made flesh - there was just one scoring shot from the first 36 balls he faced, a cover-drive for four off Steyn - but he was happy to build slowly while Cook stepped it up with some aggression against Paul Harris.

The spinner did not enter the attack until the 37th over and was not allowed to settle as Cook swept him for two fours and confidently advanced to loft him over short mid-wicket for another.

Bell moved into the 20s with a couple of well-placed cut shots off De Wet before Cook survived a big scare when sweeping JP Duminy against the spin, his top-edge looping over Hashim Amla at short-leg and just evading the fielder's dive as he turned and tried to get under the ball.

Dale Steyn catches Kevin Pietersen off his own bowling
The low point of England's day: Steyn removing Pietersen for a duck

England took tea at 133-4, with Cook on 65 and Bell 24 in a partnership worth 60 at that stage, but Cook played a dreadful shot four balls into the final session, a gentle pull shot he intended to lap round the corner. But he got it all wrong and Ashwell Prince, standing just in front of square-leg, sprang to his left to take a neat catch.

It appeared to be a massive blow for England to suffer at that stage, but Bell's initial reaction was to stroke three cut shots for four in a single Steyn over - each placed at a slightly different angle - as Graeme Smith's efforts to plug the gaps was defied. It was the sort of batsmanship from Bell that Wally Hammond was fabled for producing.

But having worked so hard he played a shot that was just plain Wally - a flat-footed cut that this time picked out the midriff of Duminy at point to gift Kallis a wicket.

South Africa's seamers scrapped hard all day, rarely bowling poor deliveries, but the chance of gaining a big lead inside two days evaporated late on as Prior and Broad scored at a brighter rate than England's earlier batsmen.

Finally, Steyn hurried one through Broad's defences to bowl him for 25, matching Morkel's three wickets with a trio of important scalps of his own.

Prior played the best shot of a gritty innings when pulling Morkel for four as the new ball was taken and the Sussex wicket-keeper has the chance of inconveniencing South Africa further on Tuesday.

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see also
Test honours even so far - Cook
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Jonathan Agnew column
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South Africa v England day two photos
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Kallis century holds up England
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Middlesex hopeful of Ntini deal
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Michael Vaughan Q&A
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Live cricket on the BBC
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England in South Africa 2009-10
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