|Scorecard:||England v South Africa|
|Event:||South Africa in England 2012|
DateLine: 6th August 2012
England v South Africa, 2nd Test, 4th day
In association with Investec.
Leeds - With incessant rain for the greater part of the afternoon leaving the ground saturated, the umpires abandoned the fourth day's play in the second Test. With just one day remaining and two entire innings to be completed a draw should now be a certainty. In which case it would be imperative for England to win the remaining third Test starting in ten days time at Lord's, if they are to hold on to their No. 1 Test ranking having lost the first Test. A series victory for South Africa would push them up to the top spot from their present No.3 ranking.
Earlier in the day, rain had also stopped play in the last over before lunch just a quarter of an hour into the South African second innings which stood then at 5 without loss. The resumption took place two hours later with Graeme Smith and Jacques Rudolph who opened in place of Alviro Petersen (suffering a slight hamstring injury) continue with cautious batting. In an hour's play they had scored 39 runs from 17 overs. Rudolph had 21 from 53 balls and 12 of those runs had come from edged boundaries, off Stuart Broad, two past slips and one to fine leg. He had one fine shot, an extra cover drive for four.
The pace bowling in favourable cloudy conditions had not been easy to score off during the brief period and Smith had faced 49 balls for his score of 17 which included just one flicked four off Tim Bresnan. In damp conditions the outfield was slow too apart from the first hour of the day. England had used four bowlers in brief spells and James Anderson achieving considerable movement was particularly difficult to score off. He conceded only four runs from his six overs.
After play began on the fourth morning it took South Africa just an hour and a half to claim the remaining five overnight England wickets in contrast to the previous day when they toiled all day for five wickets with Kevin Pietersen being their chief tormentor. But he wasn't to do any further damage to the opposition, resuming on 351 for five, England lost Pietersen to the second ball of the day with Morne Morkel trapping him leg before wicket without an addition to his overnight score of 149.
It was disappointing for another good crowd who had hoped to see more fireworks from Pietersen who with 21 Test centuries has only three England players ahead of him with more hundreds. Walter Hammond, Colin Cowdrey and Geoffrey Boycott have scored 22. But while Pietersen has played 88 Tests, Cowdrey and Boycott played 114 and 108 respectively. Hammond was less with 85 Tests. It should also be mentioned that the England captain Andrew Strauss has 21 centuries and he is playing his 99th Test.
England did make some progress though after Pietersen's dismissal with Matt Prior who was 20 not out overnight reaching his 21st Test half century with some aggressive strokeplay which contained eight boundaries. Along with Tim Bresnan he put on 45 before Bresnan, having scored a slow 11.runs from 50 balls, edged to Smith at slip for his third catch of the innings and that was the seventh wicket down with the total on 396.
The last three wickets fell to the leg spinner Imran Tahir in a 13-ball spell in which he conceded just nine runs. He had Broad held at mid-wicket by substitute fielder (for Alviro Petersen) from a mistimed pull and then had Prior, on 68 from 89 balls, top-edge his slog/sweep to backward square leg. Finally, after an addition of five runs which took the total to 425 giving England a first innings lead of just six, Anderson was beaten by a leg break and bowled for eight as he missed a hit aimed towards mid-wicket.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)