England lost the wicket of Alastair Cook before rain brought about an early lunch when the score was 80 for one on the third day of the second Test against South Africa in Leeds, England, yesterday.
England, replying to 419, resumed on 48 without loss at Headingley and found conditions difficult with ball beating bat frequently in the gloom.
Captain Andrew Strauss was 33 not out and Jonathan Trott was on six when a rain storm came in an hour into the first session of play.
Cook was LBW to seam bowler Vernon Philander for 24, with England unsuccessful in their review of umpire Steve Davis’ decision.
Strauss was almost a second wicket when he edged Philander toward Graeme Smith at first slip, but the ball bounced just short of him, although a dive may have given the South Africa captain a chance of the catch.
South Africa, 1-0 up in the three-match series, remain in a commanding position after their imposing total came having lost the toss.
However, the unsettled weather forecast for the rest of the match may hamper the tourists’ push to win the series in Leeds.
England are seeking to avoid a series loss in order to hold on to their top test ranking and prevent South Africa from taking over.
On Friday, England made a solid start to their reply after South Africa stretched their first innings to 419 on the second day of the second Test at Headingley on Friday.
England were 48 for no wicket when bad light ended play with 22 overs still due to be bowled.
“It’s pretty even,” said Stuart Broad, who took three for 96 to be England’s most successful bowler. “Being none down tonight was vital. We have one job and that is to bat as big and as long as we can. We need one of those 600 knocks and to put South Africa under pressure on the last day.”
Strauss and his opening partner Cook batted confidently, aided by some wayward bowling by the South Africans.
South Africa’s innings lasted until shortly before the tea break. Alviro Petersen made a career best 182 as South Africa ground out an imposing total, casting doubt on England’s decision to pick an all-seam attack and send them in.
Broad admitted that the prospect of rain ahead of the match had influenced England’s decision.
“The forecast was so bad for the weekend that our best chance was to bowl South Africa out on day one,” he said.
Petersen injured his right hamstring toward the end of his innings and did not field when England batted. Assistant coach Russell Domingo said he had gone for a scan, but a preliminary assessment was that he might be out of action for up to 10 days.
After Petersen’s marathon innings ended in mid-afternoon, J.P. Duminy hit an unbeaten 48 as the last three wickets added 66 runs.
There was irony for England when part-time off-spinner Kevin Pietersen took his side’s first wicket of the day after Petersen and Jacques Rudolph had batted most of the morning in a stubborn sixth wicket stand of 59.
England left out front-line spinner Graeme Swann, opting for four specialist seam bowlers.