MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – South Africa fought back in the afternoon session on the third day of the fourth test on Sunday, reducing England to 138 for six in their second innings and restricting the hosts to a lead of 274.
England, who wrapped up South Africa’s first innings for 226, faced some quality bowling from the tourists with the surface helping spinner Keshav Maharaj in particular.
It was paceman Morne Morkel who got the early breakthroughs, however, striking twice before lunch.
Alastair Cook went in the seventh over, attempting a cover-drive but his thick edge flew to Theunis de Bruyn at gully, who comfortably pocketed the catch.
Tom Westley went in similar fashion, edging to substitute fielder Aiden Markram who held on at a gully to leave England on 30-2.
After lunch, England opener Keaton Jennings, who has struggled throughout the series and was badly in need of a good score, departed for 18, making a mess of a short delivery from Kagiso Rabada and giving a simple catch to Hashim Amla at first slip.
Maharaj was making the most of the rough outside off-stump to the left-handed batsmen and Dawid Malan succumbed, offering up a simple bat-pad catch to short leg.
England skipper Joe Root looked composed and confident again but one run short of his half-century he was on his way back to the pavilion after dragging on a low delivery from Duanne Olivier.
Olivier had his tail up, causing problems with his clever right-arm medium-fast deliveries and after troubling Stokes outside the off-stump on several occasions, he got his reward when the England batsman edged to skipper Faf du Plessis at first slip.
While England will certainly be happy with the match situation, the tourists will take a lot of heart from two good sessions with the ball that have kept them in with the slenderest of chances.
Stuart Broad had earlier claimed the final wicket of South Africa’s first innings.
Duanne Olivier’s attempt to pull ended in a high top edge which was safely gathered by England keeper Jonny Bairstow.
James Anderson ended with his best figures in a test on his home ground of four for 38 in 17 overs.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Toby Davis