Tall order for England as SA chase top spot
ENGLAND slumped to 16/2 at close of play against South Africa at Lord’s on Sunday, getting their pursuit of 346 to win the third and final Test and square the series off to a bad start.
Jonathan Trott was six not out in 54 arduous minutes and Ian Bell had four, after openers Alastair Cook (3) and Andrew Strauss (1) both fell lbw to Vernon Philander.
England, who need a further 330, were given a minimum 103 overs to register what would be their highest fourth-innings score to win a Test, and also the most on the ground.
Only the West Indies have managed 300 or more (344/1 in 1984) in the fourth innings to win a Lord’s Test. So history is against England, who must win if they are to draw the series 1-1 and prevent South Africa from taking the world No1 ranking from them.
"Of course we are thinking of winning," Hashim Amla told reporters, after scoring his 16th Test century on Sunday.
"Fortunately we managed to take two wickets, which has put us in a good position, but it will still take a lot of hard work. If we show the intensity we showed tonight, it should help.
"To score above 300 (in the fourth innings) is a very difficult ask," he said. "We have been in that situation before. In fact anything over 250 is difficult."
However, England fast bowler Steven Finn, who took 4/74, was optimistic about the team’s chances despite the uphill task.
"As a team collectively over the last number of years, we’ve enjoyed breaking records and defying people’s beliefs against us," Finn said.
"So tomorrow, we’ve got a 15-over old ball to bat against — which isn’t going to do as much as a new ball, obviously.
"We’ve got a great opportunity to assert ourselves on the South Africans early — and we really do believe in the dressing room that we can win this game."
It was the worst possible start for England and Strauss, whose 100th Test appearance was memorable for the wrong reasons.
While his team were battling to stay in the match, his off-field relationship with Kevin Pietersen was being debated in the media.
Cook departed to the eighth ball of the innings as Philander shaped it back into the left hander.
Umpire Simon Taufel made the right call and Cook did not bother to review. Neither did Strauss, who played no stroke to another delivery moving into him.
South Africa were bowled out for 351 in their second innings in the evening session of the fourth day, with Amla making an assured 121 and ensuring England’s target was a stiff one.
England did have opportunities to finish the innings sooner.
AB de Villiers was dropped by James Anderson at short midwicket off Graeme Swann when on eight, and went on to score 43. Had De Villiers been taken, the score would have been 177/5. The day before, Amla was dropped on two by wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
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- AB de Villiers confident SA can win without Steyn
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