England v South Africa: Strauss and Cook begin fightback

Second Test, Headingley (day two):

South Africa 419 v England 48-0

Match scorecard

England negotiated the new ball safely but trail by 371 runs on 48-0 after a truncated day two of the second Test against South Africa at Headingley.

Skipper Andrew Strauss played some fluent straight drives in his 19, while Alastair Cook also looked in good touch during his 20 before the skies closed in and bad light preceded a downpour that ended chances of a resumption.

Earlier, Alviro Petersen defied a spirited England opening burst to record a career-best Test score of 182.

JP Duminy made an assured unbeaten 48 as the Proteas posted a stubborn 419.

As had been the case on the opening day, the morning session was one of great frustration for England.

Test Match Special analysis

"I don't know why England played four seamers or why they bowled first, but they gave the initiative away and now it's nearly impossible for them to win the game. It's all about if England can save it or South Africa win it, but I think they will save it. The chances of England winning are very small. But Strauss came out and batted well tonight, playing some lovely shots."

Their bowling was hugely impressive, however, with James Anderson and Stuart Broad maintaining a disciplined line, and the first run not scored until the 39th delivery of the day.

In the fifth over Anderson thought he had dismissed Petersen lbw for 124 but the opener immediately signalled for a review, and as he had been when on 119 in the evening session on day one he was reprieved by a replay, umpire Steve Davis again having to overturn his original decision.

The crowd was immersed in an absorbing period of classical Test cricket, an even duel between bat and ball, with neither side prepared to give an inch.

However England's change bowlers, Tim Bresnan and Steven Finn, were unable to provide the same control and the South African batsmen were rewarded for their powers of resolve.

Petersen's 150 coincided with South Africa's 300 but with the match, the series and the number one Test ranking beginning to slip away, England found a breakthrough from the most unlikely source.

Part-time off-spinner Kevin Pietersen's second ball ripped prodigiously off the pitch, bounced and zipped past the edge of Jacques Rudolph, who had fought in such determined fashion to fend off the outstanding opening spell from Anderson and Broad.

After Matt Prior whipped the bails off, third umpire Asad Rauf deemed that no part of Rudolph's foot was behind the line and Pietersen, in his 88th Test, celebrated his sixth wicket.

The severity of the spin immediately conjured visions of the omitted Graeme Swann, although there was to be little evidence of further significant assistance.

Moving on up

Andrew Strauss
  • Skipper Andrew Strauss is now England's eighth highest Test run scorer with 6,976, having overtaken Sir Len Hutton (6,971) late on day two
  • The next name for Strauss to overtake will be Wally Hammond, who is seventh on 7,249
  • Alastair Cook (6,495) is 13th but is young enough to set his sights on his mentor Graham Gooch 's record of 8,900

In the sixth over after lunch, Petersen's valiant vigil was finally brought to an end with what looked to be a routine edge through to wicketkeeper Prior.

Umpire Rod Tucker appeared to be the only person in the ground who did not think it was out but England's review ensured the correct decision was eventually made, and resulted in some barracking for the Australian official from the Western Terrace.

The final three wickets were taken relatively comfortably, Vernon Philander hooking to Bresnan on the boundary and Cook, looking far more comfortable at second slip than when he spilled Petersen early on Thursday, safely pouching the last two batsmen to give Broad and Anderson some well deserved rewards.

The final three wickets did add 66 runs, however, to take the South Africans past the magic 400 and give England an awkward period in which to begin their reply.

When Morne Morkel rapped Strauss on the gloves in the first over it seemed as if the openers would be in for an unpleasant ordeal, but the giant paceman lost his radar and the new ball was surprisingly not as much of a threat as had been expected.

The challenge became greater again when the clouds increased and Strauss would not have been unhappy when the umpires took the players from the field.

But as he left an extremely wet Headingley, the England captain will have been wondering just how his team will be able to win the match and square the series from this position.