July 21, 2012
South Africa fought back brilliantly to put themselves in a good position on the second day of the first Test. Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis turned out to be the bowling stars for the visitors as they struck early and then in regular intervals to ensure they did not allow England to post a mammoth total while Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla strengthened their position with dogged knocks.
Steyn, who a tad off-colour yesterday, hit the straps early, striking to dismiss centurion Alastair Cook in the 3rd over of the day. His partner, Vernon Philander too kept the pressure on the batsmen with some immaculate bowling. Steyn struck again in his next over to have Ravi Bopara caught behind for a duck and leave England in a spot of bother. The dual success inspired the visitors to keep the intensity high and they reaped rewards soon enough. Kallis outfoxed Ian Bell with a brilliant inswinger that just did enough to dislodge the bail after the England batter had decided to shoulder arms.
Matt Prior was the only batsman who defied the steaming SA attack, but he could do little but watch as Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad departed after small-but-important stands. Prior too fell soon after trying to go on the attack, but the wicket-keeper had played an important knock of 60 (90 balls). Prior and the three lower-order batsmen added 99 runs to help England reach a position of relative safety. James Anderson was the last batsman out, giving Morkel his 4th wicket as England were bowled out for 385.
Like England, South Africa’s start too got off on a bad note. Jimmy Anderson struck early for the hosts, trapping Alviro Petersen plumb in front for a duck in the 3rd over of the innings. Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith steadied the ship with some cautious batting before rain arrived and halted the game for close to 90 minutes.
Smith and Amla continued to hold fort for South Africa after the rain break. The runs were not easy to come by but the experienced duo ensured there were no further setbacks as they stitched together a 50 run stand.
Hashim Amla did enjoy a reprieve towards the end when Andrew Strauss floored a tough chance towards the end as South Africa ended the day in a strong position at 86/1, still 299 runs behind.