Tough first day at The Oval
ALVIRO Petersen carried his bat through the day to score 124 as South Africa battled to 262 for five in a tough first day of the second test yesterday.
He and Graeme Smith put on 120 for the first wicket and AB de Villiers contributed 47 to a partnership of 97 for the fourth wicket with some beautiful drives among his nine fours.
Shortly before the end, with the new ball showing some prolific movement and variable bounce, De Villiers chopped on to his stumps.
Nightwatchman Dale Steyn followed shortly afterwards, bowled by Steve Finn.
It was a day of fluctuation, but one in which Petersen's unshakeable determination, and a little bit of luck, called into question England's decision to attack with four seamers, dropping off-spinner Graeme Swann after 43 consecutive tests.
Halfway through the afternoon session, South Africa were sitting comfortably without losing a wicket. Then down came the clouds and the ball started moving about.
Still, the Proteas had toughed out the first hour and looked set to do it again, except that Smith clipped a Tim Bresnan delivery off his legs, to be snatched by Ian Bell backward of square.
Three overs later, in a dreadful mix-up that was due in part to a misfield, first-test hero Hashim Amla was run out by a pin-point throw from Bresnan and he was soon followed by Jacques Kallis, whose somewhat ambitious cut-shot nicked off the toe of the bat to Alastair Cook at second slip.
When rain brought an early end to the session, the Proteas had lost three wickets for 37 in a 12-over spell. De Villiers and Petersen were forced to consolidate cautiously once play resumed, and they did so admirably.
Petersen edged towards his fourth test hundred, finally pulling Stuart Broad to the boundary after a patient wait in the nineties. The score also measured the state of play: his first fifty came off 78 balls; his second off 137 as he had to dig in.
Petersen was given a massive reprieve, on 29, when James Anderson found an edge, only for Cook to drop a simple, straight catch at second slip.
But he gradually became more comfortable and brought up his 50 by pulling Bresnan for two successive fours; and when it came he had hogged 78 of the 113 balls.
Smith played second fiddle, through no fault of his own. When the 50 partnership came up, he had contributed 10 off 35 balls.
As he ground his way to his 33rd test 50, he was aided by an obscure ruling by umpire Steve Davis who finally lost patience with Finn knocking off the bails with his knee on delivery as he tried to tuck in close.
On the fourth occasion, Davis called "dead ball", just as it found Smith's defensive edge and flew to Andrew Strauss at first slip.
He cited rule 23.4, saying the ball is dead if the batsman is distracted in any way, and knocking off the bails was distracting.