Keeping danger at bay: England survive scare as match ends in draw

Bairstow, Ali hold fort after South Africa dismiss six by mid-afternoon

Afp January 06, 2016
Benjamin Stokes (C) plays a shot before getting caught out. PHOTO: AFP

CAPE TOWN: England were given a scare before the second Test against South Africa ended in a draw on the fifth and final day at Newlands on Wednesday.

On what had been expected to be a low-key day after high scoring in the first innings, England lost six second-innings wickets by mid-afternoon, when they held a precarious lead of 118.

Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali negotiated the rest of the afternoon and England were on 159-6 when play was called off for bad light 15 minutes after tea and abandoned 45 minutes later. England will take a 1-0 lead into the third Test of the four-match series, starting in Johannesburg on January 14 but South Africa will take heart from a strong fightback with both bat and ball after taking a battering in England’s first innings.

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Inspired by Ben Stokes’ 258, England made 629-6 declared but South Africa batted solidly to reply with 627 declared, led by captain Hashim Amla’s 201.

The flurry of wickets on Wednesday was in complete contrast to the first four days when both teams scored more than 600 runs in their first innings and 1272 runs were scored for the loss of only 13 wickets.

After four days of unrelenting sunshine, the sky was partly overcast on Wednesday.

The fast-bowlers, led by Morne Morkel, gained some movement, while off-spinner Dane Piedt obtained some turn from a pitch which had previously offered no assistance to the bowlers.

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Piedt was the most successful bowler, taking three for 38.

Alastair Cook and Alex Hales fell within the first three overs of the day, both without adding to their overnight scores of eight and five respectively, while Joe Root was bowled just before the mid-morning drinks break. Nick Compton fell shortly before lunch.

England seemed to be heading to safety after lunch as James Taylor and Stokes added 30 for the fifth wicket, with Stokes following up his first innings of 258 with some more solidly-hit strokes. But he went for a big hit against Piedt and was caught by Morkel on the midwicket boundary for 26.

Taylor followed in Piedt’s next over, gloving a catch to Temba Bavuma at short leg after making 27. At 116 for six, less than midway through the day, England were in trouble when Bairstow and Ali came together. 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2016.

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