England v South Africa: Jonny Bairstow leads England recovery

 

Third Test, Lord's (day two):

South Africa 309 v England 208-5

Match scorecard

Jonny Bairstow hit an unbeaten 72 to lead the England fightback on day two of the third Test against South Afica at Lord's.

Bairstow, playing in place of Kevin Pietersen, walked to the crease at 54-4, but shared a fifth-wicket stand of 124 with Ian Bell to help the home side to 208-5 by the close, 101 behind.

Earlier, South Africa were bowled out for 309 before Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel ran through the England top order.

Bell and Bairstow combined to revive England's hopes of saving the series and keeping their place at the top of the world Test rankings.

Analysis

"England have to bat until after lunch tomorrow - but if they get level with South Africa, they'll have a chance of winning the game. Instead of two heavyweights, South Africa have been a heavyweight and England have been like a middleweight trying to stay on terms with them."

Bell fell late on for 58, caught at gully driving loosely at Vernon Philander, but, with Matt Prior accompanying Bairstow to the close, the match remains in the balance after a fascinating day's play.

The action at a baking hot Lord's was split into three distinct phases: England's push to remove the South Africa tail; the Proteas' rampage into the hosts' batting; and the Bell and Bairstow rearguard.

When Bairstow, recalled to play only his fourth Test after Pietersen was dropped, joined Bell, England looked to be crumbling in conditions ideal for batting through a combination of loose shots and potent South Africa bowling.

But they weathered the pace and hostility of Morkel and Steyn prior to tea before mixing watchful defence with some eye-catching strokes in the evening sunshine.

Bairstow, whose struggles against West Indies earlier in the summer led to talk of a perceived weakness against the short ball, looked in little discomfort when peppered from around the wicket by the South Africa fast bowlers.

At the other end - Bell, promoted to number four in Pietersen's absence - looked assured in defence and stylish in attack, with the wild drive that cost him his wicket coming as a surprise late in the day.

Top-order trouble

Both South Africa and England were grateful for middle-order recoveries after they slipped to 54-4 in their first innings:

South Africa

Partnership

England

22

1st wicket

29

27

2nd

9

1

3rd

1

4

4th

15

51

5th

124

58

6th

40*

72

7th

-

Despite that mistake, the Warwickshire man deserves credit because when he and Bairstow came together, England were in tatters.

Captain Andrew Strauss was bowled between bat and pad by one that Morkel nipped down the slope, with Jonathan Trott and Alastair Cook masters of their own downfall.

Trott played across the line to be given out lbw on review, while Cook poked at a wide one to offer a sharp catch to Jacques Kallis at second slip, both off Steyn.

James Taylor, in his second Test, looked confident before edging a Morkel delivery from back of a length low to Graeme Smith at first slip.

At the stage, everything was going South Africa's way, with the visitors having been able to add 47 to their overnight 262-7 in the morning session.

Steyn survived a barrage of short bowling before edging a Stuart Broad awayswinger, but Vernon Philander continued undetered to post his first Test fifty.

However, after Morne Morkel was brilliantly caught behind by Prior off Steven Finn, Philander ran down the track and was stumped off Graeme Swann, allowing Prior to become only the seventh England wicketkeeper to take seven victims in an innings.

Philander's efforts, though, helped South Africa add 204 for their last five wickets, an example of lower-order tenacity that England must copy if they are to stand a chance of winning this game.