England, South Africa share honours
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:Kingsmead, Durban
Scorecard:South Africa v England
Player:AJ Strauss, AB de Villiers, DW Steyn, GP Swann
Event:England in South Africa 2009/10

DateLine: 27th December 2009


Another exciting day's play was brought to an early end as bad light forced the umpires to call of the day's play. South African lower order batsmen did well to frustrate the English team as they scored a challenging 343 in their first innings. The English team in reply led by Strauss' aggressive 54 replied in style before Morkel produced what might be the ball of the series to remove the English captain.


Boucher started the day as he clipped the first ball he faced from Anderson through mid-wicket for a boundary to signal out South Africa's intentions. Boucher and de Villiers counter-attacked from the word go as of the two Boucher was the aggressor. The pair added 63 in 17 overs before Boucher (39, 50 balls, 5x4) was trapped leg before by a tireless Swann but not before a drama. The on-field umpire had negated the appeal and the English team took an age to challenge the decision. Strauss wasn't fully convinced but the replays showed that Boucher was dead duck. Finally a referral went England's way after four unsuccessful ones at Centurion.


That was the cue that de Villiers required as he began to open up to play some crunching cover-drives. Morne Morkel too did not simply hang around as he too began to go for his shots so that South Africa did not lose the momentum that they had built. de Villiers got to his fifty in 96 balls but a couple of balls later a fuller length from Broad found the outside edge of the right-hander's bat to sent him back to the pavilion. Swann terminated Harris' innings (2, 12 balls) as the batsman was trapped leg before and the off-spinner continued to impress as he trapped Morkel (23, 49 balls, 2x4) just after lunch break. The South African score read 285 for nine and the English openers, Strauss and Cook, were seeing warming up. But Steyn had other ideas as he began to go berserk.


Steyn slammed Swann for a couple of sixes straight back over the bowler's to get the circulation going in his legs as soon it was raining boundaries. Of all the shots that Steyn played the most impressive one was a back-foot cover-drive through covers which the batsman himself will be speaking for some time to come. Finally Anderson ended Steyn's fun when the batsmen edged through to the keeper as the South African innings ended on 343. The last pair added 58 runs in 12.3 overs to frustrate the English side.


The English openers in reply got off to a flier as Strauss in particular was in a murderous mood. Ntini in particular felt the brunt of Strauss' fury as the veteran pacer leaked 25 runs in his three overs which forced Smith to take the bowler of the attack. None of the bowlers, barring the tall Morkel, were unable to make any sort of impression on Strauss as they kept feeding the English captain to his strengths. Strauss raced to his fifty of just 49 balls and survived a huge leg before appeal against Morkel. The on-field umpire ruled the left-hander out but the skipper challenged the decision as there was a faint inside-edge. The decision was overturned and Strauss would have eyed a century.


But Morkel had the last laugh as he summoned up the will to bowl a cracking delivery which ripped through the defences of Strauss to flatten his middle stump and send his leg stump cartwheeling towards the direction of fine-leg leaving his off stump standing. Trott joined Cook in the middle and the two set about building solidly on the base provided by Strauss. As in the previous day the light deteriorated forcing the on-field umpires to offer the light to the batsmen who accepted it immediately.