Bairstow keeps England ahead
Jonny Bairstow struck a gutsy unbeaten 72 to help England close the second day of the third test against South Africa on 208 for five and in control at Lord’s in London on Friday.
The Yorkshireman showed nerves of steel in the face of some hostile bowling by the tourists, with his career-best effort coming from 137 deliveries.
Bairstow shared in a fine rescuing partnership of 124 with Ian Bell (58 off 157 balls) that came from a little under 40 overs to leave the hosts just 101 behind the Proteas’ 309, an innings that also saw Vernon Philander strike a super 61 from 93 balls.
But the South Africans are likely to be a touch disappointed after having their English counterparts under the knife early on at 54 for four.
Dale Steyn was the chief destroyer with two for 48, while Morne Morkel chipped in with two for 53 leaving the match only slightly tilted in England’s favour.
South Africa resumed the day on 262 for seven and added 47 for the final three wickets, with Steyn (26) and Morkel (25) initially showing their hand with the bat.
The three batted for the better part of an hour in the morning with Philander the last man out when he was stumped by Matt Prior off Graeme Swann (2/63), with Steven Finn (4/75) and James Anderson (3/76) the other main wicket-takers.
The Proteas then made a slow start with the ball after some loose bowling allowed England a brisk start, before Morkel cleaned up captain Andrew Strauss, playing in his 100th test, for 20 with what turned out to be the final delivery before lunch.
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It was 29 for one at that stage and Steyn and Morkel seized the initiative during the afternoon session, removing Alastair Cook (7), Jonathan Trott (8) and James Taylor (10) cheaply.
Trott was first out in Steyn’s second over leg before wicket, albeit after a review was called for by Graeme Smith when umpire Kumar Dharmasena initially gave it not out.
The England number three was caught dead in front and had to go, while early in Steyn’s next over, Cook was out after poor shot selection.
An angled delivery across the opener should have been left, but he chased after the ball and sent an edge to Jacques Kallis at second slip, the veteran allrounder almost looking away as he took the ball standing, but with his hands low.
The 50 came up in the 19th over, before the home side were reduced to 54 for four, the same score the South Africans were at early on the first day.
A rising delivery from Morkel had to be played at by Taylor and he sent an edge low down to Smith at first slip.
But Bairstow and Bell then dug in.
They reached tea on 94 for four and raised the 100 straight after, before the 50 partnership arrived in a battling 113 deliveries.
Bairstow, whose previous best score in his first three tests was 19, went to 50 in 86 deliveries, followed by Bell getting to his 34th half century in a much more patient 133 deliveries.
But Philander (1/30) finally dismissed Bell after teasing him outside the off stump earlier in the over, with the batsman hanging out his bat and edging to Alviro Petersen at third slip.
Prior (22 not out) then helped Bairstow take England to the close in a promising position.
Report Day 1
ENGLAND – Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, James Taylor, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior (wk), Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Steven Finn.
SOUTH AFRICA – Graeme Smith (capt), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (wk), Jacques Rudolph, JP Duminy, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.