South Africa on top as England, officials toil

Updated: 17 January 2010 16:15 IST

England were reeling at 48 for three when bad light stopped play, still 195 runs short of avoiding an innings defeat.

South Africa on top as England, officials toil

Johannesburg:

South Africa's fast bowlers struck three times in England's second innings as the home team pushed for a series-levelling victory on the third day of the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers on Saturday.

England were reeling at 48 for three when bad light stopped play, still 195 runs short of avoiding an innings defeat.

Morne Morkel had Alastair Cook caught at first slip by Graeme Smith in the fourth over and Dale Steyn produced a superb delivery which swung away late and caused Jonathan Trott to edge a catch to AB de Villiers at third slip.

After a brief stoppage for bad light, the players came back for long enough for new cap Wayne Parnell to trap England captain Andrew Strauss leg before wicket.

South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, who struck an aggressive 95 to set up a declaration on 423 for seven, said his team were quietly confident.

"There is a bit more in this wicket than in the two games where we couldn't manage a win," he said.

"We don't know what the weather is going to do but we believe we have the bowling attack to take seven more wickets. Even if we have to chase a hundred runs to win we've got the batsmen to do that."

For the third successive day, rain and bad light severely curtailed play but South Africa's late strikes set them up to square a series which they trail 1-0 after the frustration of two drawn games in which England were nine wickets down in their second innings.

"England have saved two Tests so we're not too comfortable in the changing room but we've had them under pressure for five or six days and pressure eventually gets to players," said Boucher.

England bowler Ryan Sidebottom admitted England had not performed well but said: "We've shown over the last 12 months that that we fight well as a unit. We've got to fight really hard and show character."

Sidebottom, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann claimed early wickets on Saturday to reduce South Africa's advantage but AB de Villiers and Boucher shared an attacking century partnership to put the hosts back on top.

De Villiers rode his luck to make 58 before a thunderstorm hit the ground 50 minutes after lunch. But the storm passed and South Africa were able to take giant strides towards a win.

Boucher hit his runs off 118 balls, falling five short of his sixth Test century when he top-edged a sweep against Swann and was caught at deep backward square leg.

It was the second time in the day that Swann had taken a wicket with the first ball of a spell and the 16th time in as many Test matches that he had struck in the first over of a spell.

But Swann was out of luck when he twice won appeals against De Villiers from umpire Tony Hill only for the decisions to be overturned on review.

To add to England's miseries with the review system, they wasted a review when Swann sought a leg before wicket decision against Boucher, then saw De Villiers get away with what seemed a clear inside edge to wicketkeeper Matt Prior off Ryan Sidebottom.

Because England had used up both their reviews - including the controversial review of the decision that saw Graeme Smith escape dismissal on Friday - they could not seek to get Steve Davis' not out decision reversed.

England used up one of their second innings batting reviews when Strauss tried unsuccessfully to challenge Hill's lbw decision shortly before play ended for the day.

De Villiers and Boucher put on 120 for the sixth wicket, scoring at four runs an over, after Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and JP Duminy were dismissed early in the day.

Meanwhile, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said they will launch a formal investigation into the controversy over the television review system that erupted on Friday.

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said a letter of complaint had been received from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and an investigation would be held.

England complained after television umpire Daryl Harper failed to overturn a not out decision against South African captain Graeme Smith on Friday because Harper allegedly failed to turn up the sound on an audio feed from the stump microphone.

Topics : Cricket Sreesanth
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