England succumb to super Steyn
England were unable to pull off another great escape against South Africa as they slipped to an innings-and-12-run defeat in the first Investec Test at the Kia Oval.
Following three successive days of domination by the Proteas, Andrew Strauss’ side resumed their second innings this morning on 102 for four, still trailing by 150.
Hopes that England could emulate their draw-saving heroics in Centurion and Cape Town, during the last Test series between these teams, were raised when Ian Bell and Matt Prior joined forces to defy South Africa for more than two hours either side of lunch following Ravi Bopara’s early exit.
However, Prior was then caught at slip off Imran Tahir for 40 and Dale Steyn produced a swift three-wicket burst with the second new ball - including the key scalp of Bell, who faced 220 deliveries in making 55.
Steyn – the world’s number-one ranked bowler – finished with 5-56 from 21 overs as England failed to take the game past tea.
South Africa, for whom Hashim Amla struck a record 311 in a total of 637 for two, now lead the three-match series 1-0 ahead of next week’s second Test at Headingley Carnegie.
3:57pm – WICKET! Anderson lbw Tahir 4; Eng 240 ALL OUT – SOUTH AFRICA WIN BY AN INNINGS AND 12 RUNS - That is the end of that. Anderson is plumb as plumb can be to Tahir and his decision to call for a review prompts a few giggles among the crowd. All credit to South Africa, they were the better team in this match and now hold a 1-0 lead in the series.
3:49pm - You would think England had just won the Test judging by the cheers that accompanied a first boundary for Bresnan. Alas, that is not the case...
3:40pm - Anderson plays and misses on numerous occasions against Morne Morkel. Tea would usually be taken at this stage, but, with just one wicket needed, we will continue.
3:33pm - Steyn is withdrawn from the attack and replaced by Tahir, having all but wrapped up this match for South Africa with a burst of 4-1-8-3 from the Vauxhall End.
3:24pm – DROPPED CATCH – James Anderson is put down by a diving Duminy at point off Steyn, but it is unlikely to matter I’m afraid.
3:16pm – WICKET! Swann c Petersen b Steyn 7; Eng 218/9 - Steyn has a five-wicket haul as Swann departs in tame fashion, chipping a drive straight to cover.
3:11pm - Swann takes a short ball from Philander on the arm guard, but sees out the remainder of the over and chips the last ball past cover for four. England will do well to avoid an innings defeat now; they still trail by 35.
3:02pm – WICKET! Broad c de Villiers b Steyn 0 - South Africa’s fielders go up in unison, believing that Broad has been strangled down the leg side. Umpire Asad Rauf is unmoved, but a review goes in South Africa’s favour. Nothing showing on HotSpot, although I’m pretty sure that came off the glove. Steyn has four and the end is nigh.
2:50pm – WICKET! Bell c Kallis b Steyn 55; Eng 210/7 - That may well be the end of England’s hopes. Steyn gets one to move sharply off the seam and Bell nicks off to second slip, where the reliable Kallis makes no mistake. The end of a gutsy 220-ball knock and South Africa are three wickets away from victory.
2:47pm - Now the new ball is taken and Vernon Philander, probably the pick of the attack this morning, has first use from the Pavilion End. Steyn will partner him.
2:40pm - South Africa opt against taking the second new ball at the earliest opportunity, which is no great surprise with Tahir having just made a breakthrough. At drinks, England are 208 for six, trailing by 44, with Bell unbeaten on 54.
2:33pm - Bell is most certainly the key man now. He drives Kallis through the covers with no little style and will be hoping Tim Bresnan can offer sustained support. As I type that, the new batsman edges Kallis just short of Graeme Smith at first slip.
2:23pm – WICKET! Prior c Kallis b Tahir 40; Eng 203/6 - Gah! Prior attempts to slog-sweep Tahir but is deceived by some extra bounce from around the wicket. Kallis takes a thin edge high above his head at slip and South Africa’s victory push is back on track.
2:15pm – FIFTY! Bell (189b 5x4 0x6) - Bell tickles one fine off Kallis to move to 49 and a single into the off side takes him to a thoroughly well deserved fifty. He has shown tremendous application.
2:12pm - The longer this partnership goes on, the more South Africa will start to worry. England famously pulled off great escapes in Centurion and Cape Town when these two sides last met in a Test series. There is still a long way to go yet, however, and Bell and Prior need to stick around.
2:02pm - Tahir drops short, but Prior is unable to cash in. I think that may have been a top-spinner actually, although it’s not all that easy to pick from 100 yards behind the bowler’s arm.
1:57pm - Positive signs for England as both batsmen milk Imran Tahir, who has changed ends once again, with a degree of comfort. Steyn then appeals for lbw against Prior, although it was a slightly optimistic shout; the ball looked to be sliding down.
1:48pm - The new ball will be available in around an hour, but South Africa have turned to their strike bowler almost immediately after lunch. Dale Steyn’s fourth delivery of the afternoon is wayward and Bell clips it down to fine-leg for his fourth four.
1:40pm - Ian Bell and Matt Prior return to the middle, knowing they need to continue their good work if they are to prevent South Africa from claiming victory. There are still 62 overs remaining in the day.
1:01pm – LUNCH – Eng 177/5; Bell 36, Prior 29 – Some sloppy work from De Villiers, who allows a no-ball from Tahir to spin past his gloves and run away to the boundary. That brings up a second consecutive fifty stand. JP Duminy is then introduced to give us spin from both ends, but the batsmen survive and it’s a good session for England, which ends with Bell dancing down the track to plant Tahir through mid-on for four.
12:50pm - Kallis fires another one past Prior’s outside edge, while Bell continues to block and nudge his way towards lunch. This has been a fine rearguard effort from the Warwickshire man up to now.
12:37pm - Four more to Prior, who picks off a loose ball directed at his hip. He did play and miss earlier in the over, however. Tahir has changed ends and Bell sees out another maiden.
12:32pm - A thick edge from Bell squirts safely past second slip for four. Philander has been unfortunate not to gain a breakthrough in this spell. Jacques Kallis, fresh from striking 182 not out with the bat in South Africa’s first innings, replaces Tahir at the Vauxhall End and is pushed through the covers by an increasingly assured Prior.
12:23pm - Tahir concedes four byes with a delivery down the leg side that missed everything. It is important England try and keep the scoreboard moving as they look to earn a lead and Prior drives Philander confidently past mid-off to help their cause.
12:15pm - Philander beats Prior all ends up with an absolute peach that nipped away off a length. The stocky seamer then shapes another one past the outside edge in his next over and is bowling beautifully right now – that’s three maidens in a row for him.
12:02pm - Vernon Philander enters the attack and starts with a maiden to the stoic Bell, who has now faced 113 deliveries for his 21. Prior is keen to utilise the sweep shot against Tahir and moves into double figures. That will be drinks, with England still 118 behind.
11:53am – DROPPED CATCH - Imran Tahir replaces Steyn and the leg-spinner should get plenty of help from this dusty fifth-day pitch. He immediately gets one to rip past Bell, but AB de Villiers is unable to take the thinnest of outside edges.
11:45am - Bell diverts another loose delivery from Morkel down to fine-leg for his first boundary. Steyn then drops short and is turned around the corner for four by Prior. A sweetly-timed back foot drive through the covers later in the same over allows England’s wicketkeeper-batsman to double his score.
11:36am - A real blow that for England, particularly after such an encouraging start to the day. Matt Prior is the new batsman and will need to summon all of his fighting qualities.
11:31am – WICKET! Bopara b Steyn 22; Eng 117/5 - ...but not so good now! Bopara falls in disappointing fashion for the second time in the match; he tried to push Steyn through the off side off the back foot, but succeeded only in inside-edging an innocuous delivery on to his stumps.
11:27am - Bell collects his first run of the day and moves on to 15 from 89 balls. Bopara then grabs a single of his own to bring up the 50 partnership. So far, so good for England.
11:22am - Morkel appears to be struggling to find his rhythm and falls over after sending down a no-ball. He finishes the over well though, beating Bell with a back-of-a-length delivery outside off. Bopara then leaves one from Steyn that only narrowly missed off stump – that was close!
11:14am - Morne Morkel strays down leg and concedes four byes before almost missing the cut strip with a shocking off-side wide. England would be happy to see more of that today. Ravi Bopara then collects the first runs off the bat this morning with an authoritative pull off Steyn.
11:04am - Dale Steyn, the world’s number-one ranked bowler, gets things going from the Vauxhall End and Ian Bell is untroubled as he plays out a maiden.
10:55am - Almost time for the final day to get under way. We have glorious sunshine in the capital once again.
10:45am - Batting coach Graham Gooch addressed the media yesterday and insisted England will not be giving up. You can read his thoughts here, while the comments of an understandably buoyant Amla are also available to view.
10:40am - If England are to get out of the hole they currently find themselves in, they will need somebody to bat long. One man who has had no problem in doing that in this match is Hashim Amla, who yesterday became the first South African to compile a Test triple hundred. He finished unbeaten on 311 as the tourists racked up 637 for two.
10:30am - Good morning from the Kia Oval where England have a battle on their hands to save the first Investec Test against South Africa. The hosts will resume on 102 for four, trailing by 150, with Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara occupying the crease.