No early breakthrough for England

PA Sport
Stuart Board was among the frustrated England bowlers at Headingley
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Stuart Board was among the frustrated England bowlers at Headingley

England failed to find a breakthrough as South Africa tried to take the sting out of the home fightback on the fourth afternoon of the second Investec Test.

Time was short for England to try to force a series-levelling victory, all the more so with another storm threatening Headingley, and rainfall hastened the tea break with South Africa 39 for none but still only 33 runs in front. Matt Prior (68) took over from Kevin Pietersen as England scrambled their narrow lead.

They lost Saturday's hero Pietersen to the second ball of the day, without addition to his overnight 149. But Prior continued the counter-attack nonetheless, moving from a start-of-play 20 out of 351 for five to 68 out of 425 all out.

Pietersen missed the second ball of the morning and was lbw to Morne Morkel - revenge for the fast bowler after the mauling he took from England's number four the previous evening.

Prior responded with a Pietersen-style rush of boundaries, four among 23 runs off 13 deliveries. But Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad were able to add only 10 between them, respectively caught at slip off a good ball that held its line from Vernon Philander and mis-pulling Imran Tahir to be well held by substitute fielder Faf du Plessis.

Prior was still able to pass an important 66-ball half-century, which ensured Pietersen's very good work was not squandered. James Anderson helped the wicketkeeper poke England's noses in front, before Prior holed out sweeping at Tahir (three for 92).

Then Anderson missed an attempted slog-sweep in the same over from the leg-spinner, as Tahir followed his earlier toils by taking the last three wickets in 13 balls shortly before lunch.

England's prospects were enhanced by injury niggles for key South Africa batsmen. They meant first-innings centurion Alviro Petersen (hamstring strain) and Jacques Kallis (back spasm) could not bat in their preferred positions, having not taken the field this morning.

Captain Graeme Smith, who hurt himself retrieving a three on Saturday night, was fit to bat - but has had strapping on his injured left knee.

He opened the second innings with Jacques Rudolph - and between the downpours, the pair were largely untroubled if subdued for 17 overs to withstand all that England's four-man pace attack could muster against them.

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