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England Held In Check By South Africa In Third Test

England's batsmen  led by Alastair Cook and Matt Prior put on a defiant show in the Third Test against South Africa on Monday taking the visitors to 241 for 7 at close of play, thus
PTI January 05, 2010 9:53 IST

England's batsmen  led by Alastair Cook and Matt Prior put on a defiant show in the Third Test against South Africa on Monday taking the visitors to 241 for 7 at close of play, thus trailing by  50 runs.

Earlier, South Africa made 291 after losing their last four wickets in the first 19 balls of the second day's play.

Cook top-scored with 65 and Prior made an unbeaten 52. Cook was caught at square leg by Ashwell Prince after his pull shot off Morne Morkel.

Kevin Pietersen was out for duck. Having greeted him with a bouncer, Steyn, curiously overlooked by Graeme Smith for the new ball, gleefully plucked the return catch as he miscued a punched drive on the up.

It was a soft way to go in conditions that demanded grit but Strauss was just as guilty of driving without due care and attention when he lunged at one from Morkel in the opening over. Having got Strauss out twice before in the series, Morkel cut to the chase after a bit of cat and mouse with his angles by coming around the wicket from the off, with handsome reward.

Jonathan Trott probably knows Newlands better than any ground apart from Edgbaston and would clearly have loved to register the fact by making a big score. But having stirred up the locals with an elegant cover drive for four off Morkel, the pleasure was all theirs when he chopped on trying to cut Steyn to third man.

Still nursing his dislocated finger, Paul Collingwood began in a blaze of boundaries before becoming becalmed and finally dismissed by Morkel, who was once more the pick of South Africa's bowlers.

Bell, who shared a 60-run stand with Cook, played both Morkel and Steyn well, his trio of cuts for four off the latter a high point in the innings. Unhappily for him, though, he was involved in the low point, too. His dismissal, caught cutting a long hop from Jacques Kallis to backward point, being particularly soft in the circumstances.

Stuart Broad followed him, but not before he had been equal partners in a 50-run stand with Prior. Neither looked especially fluent but it looked like being the most important contribution to England's day until Steyn hustled one through Broad's defences.

That was the 11th wicket to fall in the day, something of a puzzle given that cloudless skies usually equate to good batting conditions. But while not even ardent optimists could have predicted England's bowlers taking South Africa's remaining four wickets so promptly when play began, bat never came to dominate at any stage.

Graham Onions bowled England's first over of the day and took the prized wicket of Kallis, though one they might have expected had they done their homework. Kallis rarely scores heavily after being not out overnight, averaging just 14 after the resumption.

On MOnday he was out to the first ball he faced, the fourth of the day, caught behind as Onions got one to leave him late. It was a corker, though, and one that the master technician had no answer to.

Not to be outdone, Anderson responded by dismissing Steyn with the first ball of the next over, the batsman well caught by Trott at third slip after being drawn into pushing at an outswinger.

As the leader of England's pace attack, Anderson has had a quiet time of late but he upped his game with the wicket of Morkel three balls later, the edge carrying to Swann at second slip after the left-hander made the mistake of going at the ball too hard.

With a five-wicket haul in the offing, Anderson kept it fast and straight to Friedel de Wet, winning the lbw despite the batsmen referring it.

Having ousted Makhaya Ntini, one of South Africa's most iconic sportsmen, from the side, de Wet obviously felt he would try his luck with Hawk-Eye too. But the device is immune to outside interference and he was swiftly sent on his way.