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Sat Apr 19 11:26:22 SAST 2014

Philander spoils the party

Mark Salter at Headingley | 07 August, 2012 06:310 Comments
England v South Africa: 2nd Investec Test - Day Five
Vernon Philander of South Africa celebrates dismissing Kevin Pietersen of England during day five of the 2nd Investec Test match between England and South Africa at Headingley on August 6, 2012 in Leeds, England
Image by: Gareth Copley / Getty Images

BLAME it on Vernon Philander. He spoiled the party. England were offered a target of 253 off 39 overs yesterday to win, and they took up the challenge, sending in Kevin Pietersen to open the innings.

But after scoring 12 off the first over, a delivery from Philander leapt off the splice of the bat and it looped to Imran Tahir at mid-on.

That was the crucial wicket. England still looked to chase, but when the dangerous Matt Prior was run out by a fine throw-in from Graeme Smith, England were 106 for four and the initiative was with the Proteas. England shut up shop.

Smith nonetheless kept them playing deep into the evening, just rubbing in the fact that he was in command once again. England ended on 130 for four.

Afterwards Smith said he was determined to "make a statement" that South Africa were here to win .

"We wanted them to come back at us as we knew they would. We wanted them to have a go and give us opportunities. I think we were just one wicket away from having a full go in the closing stages," Smith said.

The scene for this dramatic finish was set much earlier in the day. Jacques Rudolph, who had played just eight of his 35 tests as an opener before being demoted last year, took a leading role with a stand of 120 with Smith.

He was there only due to the hamstring injury to Alviro Petersen, but it was that stand, to which he contributed 69, which saved the game for South Africa.

With South Africa resuming their innings just 33 runs ahead, England needed quick wickets but they were thwarted until shortly before lunch. Even though they hit back with three wickets from Pietersen's part-time off-spin and four from Stuart Broad, when the tea break arrived South Africa were 239 for seven.

It was left to Pietersen - again - to end the opening stand. Brought on for an over before lunch, he got his second ball to turn and bounce, beating the inside edge and slapping into Rudolph's back leg.

Pietersen, who was bowling only because England had decided they did not need their regular spinner, Graeme Swann, also dismissed Smith with a faint inside edge on to the pad, which was caught by James Taylor at forward short leg.

Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers hammered a quick 53 off 60 balls, which all helped to secure South Africa's position before Amla drove a full toss to Alastair Cook at mid-off to give the part-time bowler figures of 7.5-1-38-3.

England now go into the third test at Lord's knowing they must win to retain their No 1 status, but they know South Africa are unlikely to ease the pressure.

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Philander spoils the party

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