England back on top after second day

A superb batting performance by England brought the visitors back on top on the second day of the second Castle Lager Test at Kingsmead on Sunday, after South Africa had dominated the first
session and a half.

When bad light stopped play half an hour before the scheduled close, England had 103 for one, still trailing South Africa by 240 runs.

A highlight of the day for South Africa was a last wicket partnership of 58 between Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini, during which Steyn played a delightful cameo innings. He hit three fours and three sixes on his way to his score of 47 off 58 balls, and he and Ntini frustrated England, who thought they would have no problem getting the 10th wicket after Graeme Swann had Morne Morkel out leg before wicket for 23.

Steyn and Ntini’s partnership was the third highest of South Africa’s innings, after the 150 between Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis and the 63 run partnership between AB de Villiers and Mark Boucher. Their 50 partnership was also faster than any other, with the 50 coming off 59 balls.

Earlier, De Villiers and Boucher did much to restore South Africa’s position after the mini-collapse on Saturday, when South Africa lost three quick wickets after tea. Boucher was finally lbw to Swann for 39, including five fours.

South Africa definitely had the upper hand at that stage, and it was only after the introduction of the second new ball that England were able to make inroads. Broad got the first breakthrough with the
new ball when De Villiers misjudged a delivery and was caught behind by Matthew Prior for 50.

It was his 19th and came off 96 balls, including six boundaries. Paul Harris was also lbw to Swann for two, giving the spin bowler his fourth wicket of the innings.

Morkel was out in the first over after lunch, and Steyn and Ntini kept England at bay for another 47 minutes before Steyn was finally out, caught behind by Prior off England’s premier bowler, James Anderson, for 47. South Africa were all out for 343—regarded as a good total.

Swann, who ended the innings with figures of 110 for four off 35 overs, said the last wicket partnership had been frustrating for England.

“It was particularly frustrating for me because I was bowling,” he said.

“Nine down, we were in a very good position with South Africa on less than 300.”

De Villiers said South Africa were happy with the total they achieved.

“Three-hundred plus is about par for this wickets, so we were always going to fight for that,” said De Villiers.

“Boucher is in very good form at the moment—he made it look very easy out there. We pushed through and the tail batted well.”

England came out all guns blazing, and raced to 50 in the 10th over of their innings. England captain Andrew Strauss was the dominant partner, while Alistair Cook, who had an indifferent first Test, played a holding role.

Strauss looked in sublime form and reached his 18th Test 50 off 49 balls, including eight fours. Morkel got an lbw decision against Strauss, who called for a review on the grounds that the ball might have touched his bat.

Although the television replays were inconclusive, the decision was overturned and Strauss lived on, but Morkel got his revenge two overs later when he got the ball to jag back into Strauss’s stumps for 54.

When bad light stopped play, Cook was not out on 31 and Jonathan Trott had 17.

De Villiers said coach Mickey Arthur had had harsh words for the bowlers at tea time.

“Strauss was playing very well, but our bowlers were slow to adapt. They got their lines and lengths wrong, but they were much better after the break.

“Morne Morkel is looking in very good form, and it’s nice to have Dale Steyn back,” he said.

De Villiers conceded that Ntini, who went for 25 runs off four overs, had not been in the best form of his life.

“He’ll definitely be back tomorrow,” he said. “The way I know him, he’ll bounce back, hitting good areas tomorrow and get a few wickets for us as well.”

Swann said he hoped the sun would come out on Monday and that South Africa would have to field in the heat.

“The first morning when we fielded was horrendous,” he said. “It would be nice if the sun blazed out tomorrow and we could bat all day and that would fatigue the South Africans.” - Sapa

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