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Proteas in charge as England stutter
England hit trouble against Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel on the second afternoon of the must-win Lord's Test against South Africa.
Following the loss of captain Andrew Strauss to the last ball before lunch off Morkel, England's reply to 309 all out faltered to 54 for four - the exact position of vulnerability South Africa found themselves in early on Thursday.
The tourists showed their mettle with a significant fightback then, and by tea Ian Bell and Jonny Bairstow had dug in under sunny skies to help England to 94 without further loss.
Strauss, in his landmark 100th Test and 50th as captain on his home ground, was bowled through the gate by Morkel just when it seemed he and Alastair Cook had given their team a sound start. Morkel has therefore proved Strauss's downfall eight times in 11 Tests to date, and there was a familiar ring to Jonathan Trott's dismissal too - the first of two in four balls for Steyn.
This time, Steyn got his man lbw - via DRS, after Kumar Dharmasena initially reprieved Trott - and then Cook ended his increasingly uncomfortable and unconvincing stay when he chased a push-drive and edged to second slip, where Jacques Kallis expertly held on to a sharp chance.
England had lost their top three for just 10 runs either side of lunch and suddenly, in this match they must win to level the Investec series and hang on to their world number one status, it looked a long way back into contention.
James Taylor, in only his second Test, edged a little extra bounce from Morkel to Graeme Smith at first slip - leaving Bell and Bairstow, recalled here only because of Kevin Pietersen's controversial absence, under extreme pressure against an unrelenting seam attack.
Bairstow needed 13 balls to get off the mark, with a single, and an ultra-watchful Bell took 41 deliveries to reach double-figures with a clip to mid-wicket for his first four in the same Kallis over.
England's bowlers had encountered continued resistance in the first hour this morning, as Vernon Philander (61) in particular made them work hard. He completed his maiden Test half-century before he ran out of partners, having resumed with 46 to his name already, and Steyn and Morkel helped him take South Africa past 300.
By the time Philander himself was stumped off Graeme Swann, as he tried to bag more bonus runs alongside number 11 Imran Tahir, the tourists' last six wickets had realised 255 runs.