Proteas won't let up - Smith
South Africa will play to win the third and final Investec Test at Lord’s just as they did in the draw at Headingley Carnegie, according to captain Graeme Smith.
The Proteas, who won the first Test at the Kia Oval by an innings and 12 runs, need only to avoid defeat at the home of cricket to take the series and usurp England at the top of the International Cricket Council rankings.
They could have played it safe today in Leeds, yet Smith adventurously declared on 258 for nine - giving the hosts a plausible target of 253 in 39 overs and also creating the chance of victory for his side.
By promoting first-innings centurion Kevin Pietersen to open with Alastair Cook, England stated their intent. But the loss of their fourth wicket in the 20th over made them shut up shop and Smith shook hands at 130 for four with six overs left.
"We showed with our declaration what our mindset is. I don't see it changing at Lord's. Hopefully we will take a step forward,” he said.
Once Smith and makeshift opening partner Jacques Rudolph had carefully extended their overnight stand from 39 to 120, South Africa sought to score quicker in the afternoon session.
However, that came at a cost as the tourists slipped from 123 for one at lunch to 239 for seven at tea - thanks principally to Stuart Broad’s four wickets for 12 runs in 20 balls.
With Broad exploiting a last-day pitch showing some variable bounce en route to 5-69, Smith expected England would be troubled in the final innings of the game.
"I was hoping the wicket would do a lot more; the big roller flattened it out a little bit,” he admitted.
“After lunch we came out, wanted to be positive and score a good rate. We probably lost two wickets that cost us having a real go just before tea.
“We decided at tea we were going to give ourselves five overs and get there and bowl and try and win the Test match.
“That's what we have come here to do. We wanted to win the Test match and in the end England started really positively and took the game to us.
“I was hoping they would do because it would give us chances and we were probably one wicket away to have a real go with 15 overs to go.”
Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell, who batted together for 13.2 overs, denied South Africa another breakthrough.
With both teams some way from victory in the end, Smith refused to consider that either took a physiological edge.
"Not that I can think of. There is probably positive from both sides. Probably both teams can improve a little bit,” he added.
“From our perspective we played positive cricket with intent, we played to win here and were put in on a wicket that was tough on day one. To post 420 and set a base up like that was important and good from our batting unit.
“Kevin's knock got England back in the Test match and got things back on an even keel. With the weather around, things just took its course.”
A 10-day gap before the Lord’s Test, punctuated by a tour game with Derbyshire, gives several Proteas players to chance to shake off injuries.
Smith himself has a knee problem, which forced him from the field late on day three, and regular opening partner Alviro Petersen a hamstring strain that prevented him from fielding at all.
Jacques Kallis, who like Smith and Petersen batted today but also bowled four overs, is suffering from back spasms.
"Jacques’ back is flaring up all the time,” Smith said. “He does recover quite quickly; the physio works miracles with him.
“That's something, at his age, you have to keep on top of. Bowling 140k [kilometres per hour] at 37 years old, he is going to pick up a few things along the way.”
He added: "We are all improving. I jammed mine in the ground a bit. The physio has helped me a lot and the same with Alviro.
“There is lots of time in between the games so that will give enough time to recover and get ready for the next game.”