England must pull off yet another improbable second-innings rearguard to have any chance of remaining unbeaten in South Africa and scoring a famous series victory. They finished day three of the final Test at The Wanderers on 48 for three, an unenviable 195 runs short of avoiding an innings defeat. After South Africa had declared on 423 for seven, the tourists lost Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott for single figures and captain Andrew Strauss following his unsuccessful Decision Review System (DRS) appeal over a close call for lbw. They therefore need to exceed even the resilience of Centurion and Newlands, in the first and third Tests of this epic series, to keep South Africa at bay again. Cook and Trott fell in near mirror image, each to a very good ball ? the opener edging Morne Morkel to first slip and Trott steering Dale Steyn to third. South Africa's new-ball pair made life mighty difficult for Strauss and Kevin Pietersen too with some quick and well-directed deliveries on a pitch which has had good carry throughout. But it was debutant Wayne Parnell who eliminated the captain, shortly before bad light returned for the second time in the evening session to force an early close with 28 overs lost to the weather today. England had earlier struggled to contain their frustrations as Mark Boucher (95) and AB de Villiers kept the hosts in control. A series of marginal verdicts went against the tourists, who need to avoid defeat to cling on for a 1-0 series victory. Boucher and De Villiers shared a damaging sixth-wicket stand of 120 in 29 overs as South Africa reasserted a dominant position in pursuit of the victory which would mean they share the honours this winter.
With tempers still stirred off the pitch as well as on following third umpire Daryl Harper's controversial decision yesterday to confirm South Africa captain Graeme Smith not out caught behind off Ryan Sidebottom on the way to a century, England had to contend with another clutch of marginal calls going against them. Most concerned De Villiers, who twice survived via the DRS when Tony Hill had initially given him out off Graeme Swann, caught at leg slip on 11 and lbw playing no shot on 24. De Villiers was doubly fortunate with the second too when the ball ricocheted off his pad on to the stumps but without sufficient force to dislodge the bails. Perhaps the most clear-cut disappointment for England came with De Villiers on 40 of the 58 he eventually made, Sidebottom again the unlucky bowler when it seemed the batsman might have got an inside edge behind. He was given not out though ? and England had already used up their DRS chances. De Villiers finally went when he chipped a catch to mid-on off Stuart Broad. But Boucher (79 not out) stayed to pass a personal milestone of 5,000 Test runs, to test England's anger management a little further ? until the habitual afternoon storm threatened significantly enough to force the players off the field.
The second new ball had brought England no further gains either side of lunch, after three early-morning wickets. The reintroduction of Swann resulted in the day's first major dose of aggravation for the tourists when the off-spinner wanted to review an lbw decision from the first ball of his spell but was not supported by his teammates. Replays showed Boucher, on 33, would have been given out by the third umpire; then the same batsman survived another tight lbw four runs later, as England used up their remaining DRS appeal to no avail. The day had begun encouragingly for Andrew Strauss' team, with Stuart Broad (three for 82) striking first as Hashim Amla went for the addition of only two runs to his overnight 73 and then Sidebottom saw off Jacques Kallis.
Both wickets fell on 217, as England threatened to claw back lost ground. Amla followed some swing from Broad and edged behind, where Matt Prior took a diving one-handed catch in front of first slip in the first full over of a sunny morning. Kallis followed almost immediately when his attempted hook at Sidebottom took the glove and somehow looped to gully, where James Anderson took another fine catch. Then England had another breakthrough thanks to Swann's party trick of taking a wicket with the first ball of his spell as JP Duminy's frailty to a well-pitched off-break again exposed as he edged to first slip.
* PA Sport