|Scorecard:||England v South Africa|
|Event:||South Africa in England 2012|
DateLine: 2nd August 2012
England v South Africa, 2nd Test, 1st day.
In association with Investec.
Leeds – Having asked South Africa to bat first, Andrew Strauss must have wondered if it was the right decision after seeing them get off to an excellent start with Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen putting on a 120-run opening stand. Although England hit back with three quick wickets in the second session, Petersen, with a marvellous unbeaten 124 and AB de Villiers, dismissed shortly before close, for a resolute 47, brought about a recovery to help South Africa to 262 for five at stumps.
Smith, as he usually does, was slow but solid to begin with while his partner kept scoring steadily. He was fortunate though to have been dropped on 29, by Alastair Cook at second slip, when James Anderson moved a ball away taking the outside edge. It was a straightforward knee-high catch to which he fielder got both hands.
Another bit of luck came the tourists’ way when Graeme Smith was rightly given not out on 6 after he had edged Steve Finn to first slip where Strauss had held the ball low to his left. But umpire Steve Davis called a ‘dead ball’ as the bowler had knocked the bails off at the time of delivery. This happens quite often to Finn – six times during the morning session of play – as he bowls very close to the stumps and unless he goes a little wider on the crease, it is likely for such incidents to keep occurring.
Petersen kept playing his strokes, having earlier hit Stuart Broad for two boundaries in an over, a drive to cover before whipping him to mid-wicket he soon reached his half century with two consecutive fours off Tim Bresnan’s second over, both with pull shots. By lunch the tourists were on 84 with Petersen on 59 and Smith only on 25 from 56 balls.
Smith sped along after the break. He brought the team’s hundred up with two successive fours off Finn, both driven into the cover area taking his score to 36. A cut off the same bowler for his fourth boundary saw him to 49 before reaching his 33rd Test half century in his hundredth Test match for his country. While his 25 runs before lunch took 56 balls, the next 25 needed just 35. But his innings wasn’t to last much longer as Bresnan, in his first spell after lunch, had him held at backward short leg as he flicked off his pads.
Having built a solid foundation for their innings, South Africa then lost two more wickets in a space of nine overs. Hashim Amla, having given a reminder of his wonderful strokeplay during his monumental unbeaten triple century in the previous Test with a classic cover drive which took him to 9, was run out in going for a third run. He had driven Broad to cover for an easy single but on a misfield he decided to go for two more. The throw from Bresnan from just inside the cover boundary was accurate, coming just over the stumps for the wicketkeeper to break the stumps.
England struck again 25 runs later to reduce the visitors to 157 for three with the wicket of Jacques Kallis. Having opened his account with a four to mid-on off the first ball, Kallis added three more boundaries before picking a wrong ball to play the cut. The ball was not wide enough for the shot and Kallis, on 19, top-edged it to second slip where this time Cook made no mistake taking it inches off the ground. South Africa, after a great start, had suddenly lost three wickets for 37.
As so often this summer, rain made an unwelcome return an over before tea which was taken on 163 for three with Petersen on 76. Along with de Villiers he set about bringing a revival to the innings. He got into the nineties with a powerful cut for four off Bresnan after de Villiers had played the finest shot of the day, a stylish square drive off the back foot to the backward point boundary off Broad.
Having batted responsibly after the fall of three quick wickets Petersen’s innings had progressed slowly and on 96 he pulled Broad for his eleventh boundary to bring up his fourth Test century and taking the total to 200 for three. While the first 50 of his hundred had taken just 78 balls the second came from 137 with him holding the innings together. He was well supported in this role by de Villiers who was, perhaps even more watchful as at one stage he went from 18 to 19 after facing 22 balls.
The second new ball was taken as soon as it became due and Broad was unlucky to see de Villiers dropped, on 39, at second slip in the first over. It wasn’t a simple chance and the fielder was at full stretch, low to his left. He progressed to 47 with a drive to the cover boundary but played the next ball on to his stumps having batted for two and a quarter hour. Finn then bowled nightwatchman Dale Steyn for naught and that was 259 for five.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)