A fine century from Hashim Amla, a hefty target for England and two quick breakthroughs from Vernon Philander saw South Africa take another step closer to summiting the Test rankings, at Lord’s on Sunday. England closed on 16 for two, still a whopping 330 runs shy of the target they must achieve across Monday’s three sessions, if they are to retain their number one ranking. Having dismissed the Proteas for 351 all out earlier in the day, the hosts sported plenty of ambition for a positive response. However, they lost opening batsmen Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss in quick succession, and don’t look like recovering from Vernon Philander’s early brace. Cook, again falling to the seamer, was trapped lbw dead in front of the stumps. Strauss didn’t do any better, leaving a straight delivery to be adjudged lbw as plumb as they come. The duo’s departure – and the slew of despondent faces across the home team’s dressing room – told a sorry tale.
Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, for their collective pedestrianism, then dropped anchor. There was little penetrating their defences, which will have to make way for far more purposeful strokeplay on day five. The home side still need 330 runs and that means that the last day of this enthralling Test series will be equally exciting. The number one Test status is slipping away from England and who knows, South Africa will claim it on fifth day. South Africa tightened their grip on the match and the series. There was parsimony from Steyn but no philanthropy from Philander; if Morkel finds his mojo in the morning this may not last long.
Match Timings: Aug 20, 2012 (10:00 local | 09:00 GMT | 15:30 IST)