Swann leads England rearguard action

Updated: 18 December 2009 16:34 IST

Graeme Swann led a rearguard action by the England tail as South Africa ended the third day of the first Test 71 runs ahead with nine wickets in tact.

Swann leads England rearguard action

Pretoria:

England fought back to limit their first-innings deficit to 62 runs against South Africa in the first Test at Supersport Park on Friday and then struck early to leave the Proteas on nine runs for one wicket at stumps.

At the close of the third day's play South Africa led by 71 runs.

The batsman out was Ashwell Prince, bowled for a duck off an inside edge by James Anderson, as the Proteas set out to survive four overs to the close of play.

South Africa earlier dismissed England for 356 in their first innings.

The Proteas would have expected a bigger lead with the tourists on 242-8 when Stuart Broad was out shortly after tea. But a stand of 106 runs in 23 overs for the ninth wicket between top-scorer Graeme Swann and James Anderson held the home side up for 104 minutes in the final session.

Swann hit a Test-career best of 85 and Anderson contributed 29. Swann showed up his cautious top-order teammates, getting his runs off only 81 balls. His effort represented the second time in the match that the tail had scored significant runs.

Despite taking the second new ball, South Africa struggled to break up the ninth-wicket pair which hit freely against a wayward Makhaya Ntini and Morne Morkel.

South Africa captain Graeme Smith brought back spinner Paul Harris, who had already taken four wickets, after only seven overs with the second new ball. But the tall left-armer was also punished. Swann, the No. 9, hit him onto the grass bank at midwicket to bring up the 50 partnership off only 62 balls. Swann also hit Ntini for six to square-leg earlier in his innings.

Swann played shots all around the wicket, even switch-hitting with success on two occasions. He hit 10 fours and two sixes.

The partnership, the biggest of the England innings, was eventually broken when Ntini induced Anderson to offer a catch to a diving Morkel with the score on 348. The innings ended 11 balls later when Swann was caught at deep square-leg by Smith to give Harris figures of 5-123 in the innings. Ntini finished with 2-78.

The ninth-wicket partnership also broke the England record for the ninth wicket against South Africa of 99.

England started the day's second session on 143-3, but Harris led the charge to reduce the tourists to 238-7 by tea.

The first wicket to fall after lunch was that of Kevin Pietersen, who edged a Morkel delivery onto his stumps on 40. Pietersen hit three fours and a six in a 117-minute innings.

England lost their next three wickets for 32 runs, all to Harris. Ian Bell was bowled for five, Matt Prior top-edged a sweep to Friedel de Wet at fine-leg for four scored off 34 balls, and top-scorer Paul Collingwood edged to Jacques Kallis at slip.

Collingwood hit five fours and a six in his 133-minute innings of 50. He added 49 for the fourth wicket with Pietersen.

In the first session, Ntini snared the vital wicket of England captain Andrew Strauss six overs into the day.

Ntini, in his 100th Test, bowled the left-hander for 46 after England had added 10 runs to their overnight tally of 88-1. The Proteas received another boost when Harris bowled Jonathan Trott for 28 half-an-hour before lunch, and England reached the end of the first session on 143 for three wickets.

England had replied confidently to South Africa's first innings total of 418 on Thursday, but on Friday it added only 55 runs in 27 overs in the morning session.

England batsmen battled the variable bounce from the Supersport Park pitch early on day three, with several balls keeping low.

Strauss endured a torrid over from Ntini before he was bowled playing back the final ball of the 29th over that bounced ankle-high and hit his off-stump. The England captain added just two runs to his overnight score of 44, batting 138 minutes and hitting six fours.

Trott also struggled, and eventually went down the track to try to hit Harris on 28. He missed a ball that went straight on and hit his leg-stump. Former Capetonian Trott, who had played junior cricket with and against Harris, hit three fours in his 170-minute innings.

Topics : Cricket Graeme Swann
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