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Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Wednesday, 6 January 2010

England fight for a draw as South Africa dominate Test

Third Test, Cape Town:
South Africa 291 & 447-7d v England 273 & 132-3 (day four, stumps)
Play resumes Thursday: 0830 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

By Oliver Brett

Paul Harris
South Africa celebrate the end of Andrew Strauss's innings

England faced a huge fight to save the third Test after ending day four on 132-3 needing 466 to beat South Africa.

Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook saw off the first 36.3 overs, but both fell midway through the final session after putting on 101 for the first wicket.

Kevin Pietersen could only last 22 balls before falling lbw playing across his stumps to paceman Dale Steyn.

The Proteas had declared on 447-7 some 40 minutes after lunch, leaving England more than a day and a half to survive.

With Strauss and Cook seeing off the new ball and the hot sun beginning its descent behind Table Mountain, the many England fans at Newlands began to hope against hope.


But Jonathan Trott (24 not out), nightwatchman James Anderson and the remaining six batsmen will have to withstand the South African attack for a full day to protect their 1-0 series lead heading to the final Test at the Wanderers.

Were England to chase down their huge target they would smash the record established by West Indies, who chased 418 to beat Australia in Antigua in 2003. England's own record chase is 332, in Melbourne way back in 1928.

But that seems extremely improbable now. Their best bet appears to be the draw, though South Africa are hot favourites to win the match from this position, despite the wicket remaining extremely friendly to batsmen.

Graeme Smith, resuming on 162 in a score of 312-2 on Wednesday morning, opted against greedy crease occupation in a bid to inject some acceleration into the South Africa run rate.

Pragmatic Cook looking for a draw

He added 21 to his total in quick time before top-edging a well-directed Graham Onions bouncer to fine leg.

Jacques Kallis rarely looks happy being rushed in the Test arena, and managed only two boundaries to go with his three from the previous day. He finally edged James Anderson behind, finishing with 46 from 96 balls.

In the two-hour morning session, 85 runs were added in all, and Smith unsurpisingly surmised he needed more runs after the interval.

JP Duminy (36), AB de Villiers (34) and Mark Boucher (15) duly supplied an extra 50 from 58 balls - Anderson cashing in with two extra wickets and Swann one - before Smith waved his batsmen in.

With the preamble out of the way, now it was time for the main event of the day - England's battle for survival. After starting solidly, the tourists first encountered problems during an excellent eighth over, bowled by Steyn.

Hot weather at Newlands
The weather remained perfect for spectators at Newlands

The first ball exploded through the surface, Cook jamming down on it to nudge a single. The next crashed into Andrew Strauss's pads from round the wicket and South Africa pondered long and hard about whether to refer it - but chose not to.

Replays showed it was one of those marginal ones where the on-field umpire's decision would have stood, so Strauss had reason to be thankful that Tony Hill had given him the benefit of the doubt.

Strauss played much more freely in Steyn's next over, smoothly driving three consecutive boundaries through the off-side as he took advantage of the attacking field, and at tea England had safely negotiated 16 overs in reaching 38-0.

England's openers were not prepared to go into their shell, but each nearly paid for their enthusiasm early in the final session.

First Cook slog-swept Paul Harris narrowly over deep square-leg's head for four - oddly, the fielder was around 15 yards in from the rope - and then Strauss drove at Morne Morkel, and his thick edge flew just wide of third slip at catchable height.

Dale Steyn
Steyn's removal of Pietersen capped a fine finish to the day for South Africa

There was an even more dicey moment when the two batsmen badly misjudged a single, but Duminy missed his shy at the stumps from backward point and Cook - short of his ground by yards - survived.

Unexpectedly, Kallis emerged as one of the main threats with the ball, but Strauss was able to cut him for the four that brought up the 100-run partnership.

With barely an hour left in the day, Cook, on 55, top-edged a full-blooded pull shot off Friedel de Wet - perhaps looking to hit a six - and Boucher only had to jog a few yards to his right before settling under the catch.

Just 18 deliveries later, South Africa struck again, this time through Harris. The left-arm spinner has had an indifferent series but here he removed England's captain with a delivery that Strauss tried to defend with bat and pad locked together.

The ball ballooned off both to Hashim Amla at short-leg and the home side were in a very strong position once again with Strauss gone for 45.

As two right-handers replaced two left-handers, Trott looked much happier than Pietersen at the crease, with the latter frequently unable to get his drives past the infield.

Pietersen survived one lbw appeal thanks to a big inside edge into his pads after England had to refer the decision following a clanger from on-field umpire Daryl Harper who initially gave the batsman out.

However he was not so fortunate the next time.

Still looking for his first boundary, he went for an expansive on-drive through his favourite midwicket area, but was caught in front of middle stump as he failed to get any willow on the ball.

The game had swung inexorably towards South Africa in the final hour, and it will take something fairly special from England to avoid defeat now.

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see also
England 'ready to fight for draw'
07 Jan 10 |  England
De Villiers wades into ball row
06 Jan 10 |  England
South Africa v England photos
06 Jan 10 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
06 Jan 10 |  England
Inspired Smith makes England toil
05 Jan 10 |  England
South Africa make England fight
04 Jan 10 |  England
Kallis century holds up England
03 Jan 10 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in South Africa 2009-10
17 Jan 10 |  England

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