Proteas lower order fights back
SOUTH Africa showed their character and spirit as they ground their way back into the third test after an early storm swept away the top four batsmen for 54 runs.
Three fighting rearguard stands of 50-plus put up a barrier as England hurled themselves into a match they have to win to preserve their number one status. It could have been so much better but for JP Duminy playing a bizarre cut to a wide delivery from Jimmy Anderson to be caught behind off the bottom edge and end a heroic stand of 72 for the seventh wicket.
Having partnered Jacques Rudolph in a stand of 58, he was looking in fine form for his fourth test 50, but it was left to Vernon Philander to carry on the fight. He ended on 46 off 64 balls with five fours, his best score in test cricket.
Commenting on his display with Philander, Duminy said: ''We regard ourselves as the engine room of the team. It was just a case of focusing and building a partnership. England probably are ahead at this stage, but we are looking to get to 300. Anything above that will be a bonus.''
Steve Finn took three wickets for three runs off seven balls as the pace bowlers made their intentions known, bowling full to South Africa to keep them on the back foot, literally and figuratively. They rode their luck and Jacques Kallis in particular had every right to feel aggrieved when he was given out off a delivery from Finn. It touched a glove which appeared in all the replays to have been off the bat when contact was made.
Umpire Kumar Dharmasena had called ''not out'', but on review, he was instructed by third umpire Rod Tucker to reverse the decision. There was certainly enough doubt to suggest that Tucker should have stayed with the original decision.
Alviro Petersen was out in similar fashion, also to Finn, yet he was striding towards the pavilion when replays suggested he would have done well to have it reviewed.
Hashim Amla and Petersen were consolidating after the early loss of Graeme Smith, caught behind off Jimmy Anderson when the 2m tall bowler angled the fateful delivery across Petersen.
Three balls later, Amla was undone by a perfect length delivery which nipped back through the gate to take the top of the off stump. Kallis lasted just nine balls before being dismissed.
It was little consolation that AB de Villiers was to punish Finn, scoring six fours in his 27 off him, because after marking a 50 partnership with Rudolph, he was out driving hard at Anderson to be caught by Cook at third slip. Finn was well off the boil, for after lunch he conceded 46 runs from five overs.
Rudolph then settled in with Duminy to repair the damage. Once again, Rudolph was an off-spin victim. He misjudged a shorter delivery and got an inside edge on to the stumps. Still, the foundation had been laid for Duminy and Philander.