England open up slender lead

PA Sport
Matt Prior brought up an attractive half-century on the fourth morning at Headingley

View photo

Matt Prior brought up an attractive half-century on the fourth morning at Headingley

Matt Prior took over from Kevin Pietersen as England scrambled a narrow lead over South Africa on the fourth morning of the second Investec Test at Headingley.

England lost Saturday's hero Pietersen to just the second ball of the day, without addition to his overnight 149. But Prior continued their fightback nonetheless, with a typically attacking innings, moving from a start-of-play 20 to 68 out of 425 all out.

The hosts therefore managed a first-innings lead of six runs as they seek an improbable series-levelling victory here on the back of Pietersen's outstanding 21st Test century.

Plan A, of course, was for more of the same from him in the morning session. Instead, he missed his second ball and was lbw to Morne Morkel - revenge for the fast bowler after the mauling he took from England's number four the previous evening. Prior responded with a Pietersen-style rush of boundaries, four among 23 runs off 13 deliveries.

Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad were able to add only 10 between them, respectively caught at slip off a good ball that held its line from Vernon Philander and mis-pulling Imran Tahir to be well-caught by substitute fielder Faf de Plessis.

Prior was still able to pass an important 66-ball half-century, which ensured Pietersen's very good work was not squandered. James Anderson helped the wicketkeeper poke England's noses in front, before Prior holed out sweeping at Tahir (three for 92).

Then Anderson missed an attempted slog-sweep in the same over from the leg-spinner as Tahir followed his earlier toils by taking the last three wickets in 13 balls.

England's prospects in this match were enhanced by injury niggles for key South Africa batsmen. They meant first-innings centurion Alviro Petersen (hamstring strain) and Jacques Kallis (back spasm) would not be able to bat in their preferred positions - having not taken the field when play resumed.

Captain Graeme Smith, who hurt himself retrieving a three on Saturday night, was fit to bat but has had strapping on his injured left knee.

He opened the second innings with Jacques Rudolph as the tourists reached five for none in 2.3 awkward overs possible under heavy cloud cover, before rain brought a marginally early lunch.

View comments (0)