Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott steered England closer to safety by helping them to 169 for three at tea on the fifth and final day of the first test against South Africa yesterday.
England, set a target of 364 for victory, have to negotiate another 36 overs at Centurion to draw the match, which now looks likely after Pietersen and Trott batted through the second session to take their fourth-wicket partnership to 142.
Pietersen was on 80 not out and Trott was on 53.
South Africa’s best chance to break the partnership came in the fourth over when fast bowler Friedel de Wet hit a crack in the pitch to seemingly trap Pietersen lbw on 39, but the umpire called the delivery a no-ball.
Pietersen collected 11 fours and including some breathtaking drives off the front foot. In contrast, Trott tidily worked the ball into gaps on the leg-side.
England resumed their second innings on 11 for one and nightwatchman Jimmy Anderson (10) and opener Alastair Cook (12) were both dismissed in the morning session as the visitors slumped to 27 for three.
Anderson fell in the third over of the day when De Wet fired in a lifter at his body and the batsman could only edge the ball down the leg side to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher.
Spinner Paul Harris was in the attack after eight overs and dismissed Cook with his first ball to the left-hander, which made its way off his glove, on to the pad and then looped to Graeme Smith at leg-slip. However, the South Africans could then find no way past the broad bats of Pietersen and Trott.