CAPE TOWN, South Africa (Reuters) Poor weather brought a limp end to a compelling second Test as England survived a final day onslaught from South Africa to draw the match and keep up their 1-0 lead in the series.England were 159 for six in their second innings, with Jonny Bairstow (30) and Moeen Ali (10) unbeaten, before drizzle and bad light halted play soon after tea yesterday.
South Africa’s quick bowlers made inroads in the morning to offer the likelihood of a remarkable come-from-behind victory after England had dominated the opening two days, to amass 629 for six declared in their first innings. South Africa clawed back over the next two days, keeping England in the field on hot, energy-sapping days as they slowly regained a foothold and eventually declared just two runs short of the visitors’ total.
A four-wicket burst before lunch yesterday suddenly offered the tantalising possibility of a result and two more in the second session brought South Africa even closer to scuttling out England before chasing down a modest target.
But dogged resistance from Bairstow and Ali, in an unbroken 43-run partnership, and the gloomy weather dashed South Africa’s hopes of pulling off a remarkable victory.
England started the day on 16-0 in their second innings, with a lead of 18 runs, but captain Alastair Cook was strangled down the leg side and caught by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock off Kagiso Rabada’s bowling with just the eighth ball of the morning. He went for eight with England having added a single to their overnight total.
Alex Hales (5) was then snagged by a brilliant diving one-handed catch from Chris Morris at slip to give Morne Morkel a deserved wicket after some fiery bowling. Joe Root was caught in the slips by AB de Villiers off Morkel on 17 but television replays showed the bowler had stepped over the line.
But England’s top-ranked batsman failed to capitalise on the reprieve and scored 12 more runs before being bowled by Morris to leave England on 55-3. Nick Compton (15) fell 10 minutes before lunch after playing straight to Faf du Plessis at short mid-wicket as he became the first of three victims for Dane Piedt.
After the interval, the off-spinner dismissed Ben Stokes, caught at deep square leg for 26, and James Taylor, who got a nasty bounce up onto his gloves and was caught by Temba Bavuma at short leg for 27.
The third Test will be at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, January 4-18. England won the first Test in Durban by 241 runs.
ENGLAND 1st innings 629 for 6 decl. (B. Stokes 258, J. Bairstow 150 n.o, A. Hales 60, J. Root 50)
SOUTH AFRICA 1st innings 627 for 7 decl. .(H. Amla 201, T. Bavuma 102 n.o, A. de Villiers 88, F. du Plessis 86, C. Morris 69)
ENGLAND 2nd innings (o/n: 16-0)
A. Cook c de Kock b Rabada 8
A. Hales c Morris b M. Morkel 5
N. Compton c du Plessis b Piedt 15
J. Root b Morris 29
J. Taylor c Bavuma b Piedt 27
B. Stokes c M. Morkel b Piedt 26
J. Bairstow not out 30
M. Ali not out 10
Extras: (lb-4, nb-5) 9
Total: (for 6 wickets, 65 overs) 159
Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-19, 3-55, 4-85, 5-115, 6-116.
Bowling: M. Morkel 16-7-26-1 (nb-3), K. Rabada 13-2-57-1 (nb-2), C. Morris 12-4-24-1, D. Piedt 18-8-38-3, D. Elgar 6-2-10-0.
By Mark Gleeson