South Africa fought back on the second day at The Oval, closing on 86 for one after dismissing England for 385. They took the last seven England wickets to fall for the addition of only 114 runs as Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn each took two wickets.
The day had begun with England on 267 for three and Alastair Cook unbeaten on 114. However, Cook added just a single to his overnight score before dragging one on to his stumps off a rejuvenated Dale Steyn. Steyn then had Ravi Bopara in trouble in his next over, having a huge shout for leg-before turned down off the third ball, before bouncing him out off the fourth. And suddenly South Africa were back in the match with England on 272 for five.
Things got worse not long after that for the home side as Jacques Kallis set Ian Bell up with a couple of away swingers, before bringing one back in to clip the top of his off-stump and send him packing for 13. Tim Bresnan then scored eight before giving Imran Tahir his only wicket of the innings as he dragged a long hop from the leg-spinner onto his stumps and England were 313 for seven. Lunch followed shortly afterwards.
At the start of the day, England would have had dreams of scoring 500, but South Africa’s seamers improved on their control and found more swing in the morning than they had for much of yesterday. Dale Steyn was the one who displayed the biggest improvement. Yesterday, he had looked lacklustre and there were concerns about a possible injury to his ankle, but he dispelled all of those today and began South Africa’s fightback with a fiery opening burst that got rid of Cook and Bopara.
After the break, Matt Prior began to cut loose, making the most of any width that was offered by South Africa to play his trademark cut shot as he added 45 with Stuart Broad for the eighth-wicket. Broad eventually succumbed to Vernon Philander, who deserved a wicket after his efforts of the morning session, and was bowled for 16.
Graeme Swann then joined Prior and the pair added a further 25 before Prior wafted at a wide one from Morne Morkel and was caught behind for 60. The end of the innings came four balls later as James Anderson was strangled down the leg-side to give Morkel his fourth with the score on 385.
South Africa began their reply an hour before tea and lost Alviro Petersen to an excellent inswinger from Anderson. Having delivered him several away swingers earlier in the over, Anderson brought one back in to have him playing all around his front pad.
Tea came with the tourists on 25 for one and only an over was bowled after the break before the rain forced a lengthy delay. More than an hour and a half were lost before play resumed, and South Africa carried on with their steady accumulation of runs. Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla played in a similar manner to Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott yesterday and hardly looked troubled as England’s seamers struggled to find enough help off the pitch or through the air to trouble them.
Graeme Swann found sufficient turn in his nine overs to give England optimism going into tomorrow, while Andrew Strauss shelled a difficult catch off Ravi Bopara in the dying moments, but Amla and Smith remained and will resume tomorrow on 47 and 37 respectively.
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