CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Spinner Dom Bess picked up the key of South African captain Faf du Plessis before lunch to save the second test on the last day on Tuesday.
South Africa's Faf du Plessis looks dejected after losing his wicket when English players celebrate REUTERS / Mike Hutchings
With South Africa 170 for four in the break, the thought of chasing a test record 438 for victory was long gone. Instead, the hosts are now facing a tough fight to save the test in the remaining two sessions.
Debutant Pieter Malan was undefeated at 83 of 271 balls, and a lot may depend on his ability to end the rest of the day. Rassie van der Dussen wasn't out for one.
The home team will still be hoping to win the test, with the wicket offering little support to the Seam bowlers, although the rough that has built up over the past four days has provided variety for the slow bowlers.
England have the new ball, which is taken 10 minutes before lunch, to give them the opportunity to have more gates in the potentially crucial phase of the game after lunch.
Du Plessis (19) will be desperately disappointed with his shot selection when he tried to defeat Bess with a strong penalty, but he only managed to find Joe Denly on the square leg.
The South African national team's poor judgment gave England a big boost in their search for a win to level the series.
The night watchman Keshav Maharaj (2) was the other wicket who failed in the morning session. After James Anderson (2-23) broke his bat, the experienced seaman caught him in front of the wicket.
England are striving for a first win in Newlands since 1957 and were themselves involved in a major flight in 2010 when they fought 141 overs in the second innings and drew 296 against nine.
South Africa will have to fight 146 overs to save this test after winning the opening match of the 4-match series with 107 runs in Pretoria.
Reporting by Nick Said, editor of Pritha Sarkar