|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v South Africa|
|Event:||South Africa in England 2012|
DateLine: 21st July 2012
England v South Africa, 1st Test, 2nd day
In association with Investec.
Any thoughts after the first day's play that England batsmen will continue to dominate as they have done this summer against two previous oppositions in two forms of the game, would have been rapidly dismissed after the second morning's play in the first Investec Test which, at stumps, saw South Africa on 86 for one and trailing by 299 runs. Hashim Amla was unbeaten with 47 and Graeme Smith on 37 not out having put on 85 in their unbroken second wicket stand.
The tourists began their reply to England's first innings of 385 just over an hour after lunch and lost an early wicket when James Anderson brought a ball sharply into Alviro Petersen, beating him to hit the back pad and getting an lbw decision before the batsman had scored. Amla began watchfully then hit two exquisite boundaries off Anderson. Both were to the extra cover area with sheer timing.
At tea South Africa were 25 for one and two overs after the break rain brought about a lengthy stoppage of a little under two hours. After resumption both Smith and Amla gradually began to consolidate the innings and in the process played fluent strokes. Amla played more freely and the ball from Tim Bresnan that he hit, on the up, to the mid wicket boundary was the finest of the day. He went to 46 with a rare rash shot through the slips when Ravi Bopara was brought on shortly before close of play.
Earlier England, resuming on 267 for three with Alastair Cook unbeaten on 114 and a strong middle order, would have had every justification in thinking that a daunting total was very likely. But South Africa didn't take long to hit back with four wickets in the first session for just 59 runs. It began from as early as the third over with Cook, having added just one run to his overnight score dragging a ball, from Dale Steyn, on to his stumps off the inside edge as he attempted an off drive.
Steyn bowling with more purpose and aggression than he did on the previous day, wasted little time in striking again as he accounted for Ravi Bopara in his next over before the batsman had scored. He seemed to be caught in two minds, attempting to hook the bouncer at first then decided to let it go but left his bat in the way for a catch behind and England were 272 for five. Steyn had taken the two wickets in a space of seven balls without conceding a run and giving a glimpse of the sort of pace bowling that one expected from a bowler with 272 Test wickets to his name at an average of 23.18.
After a first spell of five overs for eight runs with two wickets, Steyn was replaced by Jacques Kallis who bowled four maidens in five overs and claimed the wicket of Ian Bell. The ball came in late and just flicked the off bail enough to knock it over with the batsman deciding to leave the ball. Ten runs later the seventh wicket fell as Tim Bresnan also played-on in Imran Tahir's first over. But a stand of 45 between Matt Prior and Stuart Broad brought the total up to 358 when Broad, on 16, was beaten by a ball from Vernon Philander. He seemed to hesitate to go forward as the ball came in and hit the top of the stumps.
Prior, played fine strokes and at one stage was particularly aggressive when he hit three boundaries in six balls, the last of which, a powerful square drive off Philander, saw him to 46. On 49, his straight drive for four, off the same bowler brought his twentieth Test half century. With 25 added for the ninth wicket, Prior on 60 from 90 balls, edged his drive behind the stumps. In two hours at the crease he had helped England to 383 for nine and two runs later Anderson, in attempting to hit a rising ball to leg, gave AB de Villiers his fifth catch of the innings. The last two had fallen to Morne Morkel who finished with four for 72.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)