England were 58-2 and held a commanding 147-run lead at tea on day three at Kingsmead.
England dismissed South Africa for 214 earlier on day two. They went into the second innings with a substantial 89-run lead. The visitors enjoyed a further boost when South Africa’s talismanic bowler, Dale Steyn, left the field with a shoulder injury in the seventh over.
Dane Piedt was introduced shortly after Steyn’s departure, and had immediate success. England captain Alastair Cook misjudged a delivery from the off-spinner and was out lbw.
Thereafter, South Africa battled to make inroads. Steyn returned to the field and was reintroduced to the attack in the 21st over. Sadly, he bowled just three deliveries before leaving the park for the second time. It’s believed that Steyn will go for scans to determine the severity of the injury.
South Africa did manage to pick up another wicket towards the end of the session. Alex Hales attempted to hit Piedt out of the park, and was caught in the deep by Kyle Abbott.
The Proteas could have had four wickets before the break. Nick Compton was put down by Dean Elgar in the slips. AB de Villiers also spurned a chance when Joe Root mistimed a pull in the over before tea. Morné Morkel was the unfortunate bowler on both occasions.
While the two wickets will give South Africa some hope, there is plenty of work to do. And if Steyn plays no further part in this match, the pressure on the other two seamers, Morkel and Abbott, will intensify.
England should look to bat for the remainder of day three and possibly into the second session on day two. Of course, they will know that bar Elgar, who scored 118 not out earlier in the day, South Africa’s batsmen are short on form and confidence.
The Proteas haven’t posted a total in excess of 250 in their past 11 innings. They will be hard pressed to chase down a target in the region of 300 at Kingsmead, even more so given the pitch is expected to deteriorate over the next two days.
England 303 (1st Innings) – Nick Compton 85, James Taylor 70, Dale Steyn 4-70, Morné Morkel 4-76
SA 214 (1st innings) – Dean Elgar 118 not out, AB de Villiers 49, Stuart Broad 4-25, Moeen Ali 4-69
England 58-2 (2nd Innings) – Alex Hales 26, Nick Compton 15 not out, Dane Piedt 2-33
England lead by 147 runs