South Africa took a major step toward a series-leveling victory Saturday by reducing England to 48 for three wickets after having declaring 243 runs ahead on the third day of the fourth test.
Kevin Pietersen on 9 and Paul Collingwood on 0 will resume Sunday with their side 195 runs in arrears with two days to play.
The Proteas have dominated this match from the first ball Thursday and its fine batting performance Saturday was underlined by a great start by its fast bowlers when England batted at Wanderers Stadium.
South Africa’s best batsman on Saturday was Mark Boucher, who hit 95 off 118 balls. He is optimistic of victory but says the Proteas won’t become complacent with England’s having saved two draws earlier in the series, in Pretoria and Cape Town.
“What’s positive for us is that there is a bit more in this wicket than there was in the two games that we couldn’t manage a win,” Boucher said. “We don’t know what the weather is going to do but we do believe that we have the bowling attack on this wicket to take seven more wickets and, even if we have to go and maybe get another 100 runs, then we have the ability to do so.
“But that doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels because England have saved two tests already, so we’re not too comfortable in the change—room. We’re quietly confident but we know what needs to be done. We’ve also had (England) under pressure for five or six days of test cricket now and pressure does eventually get to everyone.”
Alastair Cook was the first England batsman to go, caught at first slip by Graeme Smith off Morne Morkel in the fourth over of the innings for 1. Cook had to play at a ball that left him off the pitch.
Trott, who has not had a good game, was squared up on 8 by Steyn 15 balls later and his outside edge was snapped by A.B. de Villiers at third slip.
And a major blow was struck by debutant left-arm seamer Wayne Parnell, who trapped Andrew Strauss on 22 just before play was brought to an early end due to bad light. The England captain asked for a review but umpire Tony Hill’s decision was upheld.
Earlier, South Africa had declared their first innings on 423-7. England, which leads 1-0 in the four-match series, was bowled out for 180 in its first innings.
Boucher fell when he was caught at deep square-leg by Trott sweeping offspinner Graeme Swann. The Proteas wicketkeeper hit nine fours in 196 minutes, and was Swann’s 21st wicket of the series.
He added 64 in less than 15 overs with debutant Ryan McLaren, who scored 33 not out off 56 balls with five fours.
Boucher also put on 120 from under 30 overs with De Villiers after South Africa had lost three wickets cheaply soon after the start of play Saturday. They came together at 235-5 and their collaboration ended after lunch when De Villiers, battling with a hamstring niggle, was out pulling Stuart Broad to Collingwood at mid-on. De Villiers made 58 off 119 balls with five fours.
Boucher made his third fifty of the series off the final ball before lunch. Shortly after the break, he passed 5,000 test runs and is second on the list of wicketkeeper-batsman behind retired Australian great Adam Gilchrist, who scored 5,570 in his career.
Both Boucher and De Villiers survived referrals to the TV umpire. England referred an lbw call for Boucher when he was on 37 off Swann, but third umpire Daryl Harper ruled that he had been hit outside the line of the stumps.
De Villiers twice came out on top with referrals, on 11 and 24. First, he was given out caught but had the decision overturned despite the ball possibly shaving his glove on its way to being caught at leg slip.
England had felt hard done by on Friday when Proteas captain Graeme Smith was given not out on 15 by the on—field umpire, then survived a referral, and went on to score 105. There seemed to be an audible snick off Smith’s cut shot, and there were suggestions Harper had turned down the TV feed volume when assessing Smith’s fate, the ICC released a statement on Saturday refuting that.
De Villiers’ second let-off came when he was given out lbw off Swann without offering a shot. Replays showed the ball would have gone over the stumps. Amazingly, the delivery hit the batsman’s pads and rolled against the stumps but did not dislodge the bails.
There still seemed to be plenty of swing and seam movement available to the seamers, as well as turn for Swann, who finished with 2-93. Nearly 70 overs out of 180 were lost on the first two days of the match due to rain and bad light.
Bad light and an imminent thunderstorm halted play for about an hour 12 overs into the second session Saturday, but South Africa was not deterred from building an imposing lead. After the interruption, during which tea was taken, the team added 41 more runs in 10 overs up to the declaration.