Newlands Test delicately poised

England set up an enthralling Test match by finishing day two just 50 runs from parity with the Proteas at Newlands.

Much will depend on the Proteas’ bowlers’ ability to knock over the England tail early on day three, and then for their batters to show the application the majority of them have lacked in setting a competitive target.

The batsman will be aided by a wicket that is still playing relatively true, barring the odd delivery that has kept slightly low. That said, there was plenty in it for the heat slingers in the morning session, where, incredibly, seven wickets fell, including that of centurion Jacques Kallis.

England, led by James Anderson (who took three wickets in that period for just one run), quickly cleaned up the Proteas’ lower order, but soon found themselves reeling having lost the wickets of Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen by lunch, their score just 64.

Alistair Cook and Paul Collingwood consolidated well after the dismissal of the triumvirate, but the latter fell just after the interval and forced Cook and Ian Bell to play circumspectly for a period. Cook then scooped a back-of-a-length delivery to short mid-wicket and Bell exited just as he was beginning to look the class act he did at Kingsmead.

Matthew Prior refused to let the fall of those wickets stifle his naturally aggressive approach, and he was ably assisted by Stuart Broad, who showed signs of why he is regarded within the England camp as the natural successor to Andrew Flintoff. But he was cleaned up by a superb Dale Steyn delivery, prompting the introduction of Graeme Swann.

Prior continued to play positively, even after the Proteas opted for the new ball, and he’ll be the prize scalp on day three.

South Africa 291/6 (1st innings)
Jacques Kallis 108, Mark Boucher 51, Graeme Smith 30, James Anderson 5-63.
England 236/7 (1st innings)
Alistair Cook 65, Matthew Prior 52*, Ian Bell 48, Morne Morkel 3-57, Dale Steyn 3-64

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