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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sunshine transforms Durban and England batting: T2 D3

England 5/386 (123 ov, A Cook 118, P Collingwood 91, M Bell 55*) lead South Africa 343 on first innings by 43 runs with 5 first innings in hand: T1 D3 at Durban.

The sun came out at Durban, helping to change the nature of the pitch and the match. Some doughty batting from Alistair Cook 118/263b (11x4) and Paul Collingwood 91/215b (7x4) put England well on the road to a first innings lead. In the last session Ian Bell overcame some initial discomfort against Morne Morkel to push the total along with a fluent 55*/84b (1x6, 5x4).

Good as the English batting was, the South African bowling contributed to this. Morkel excepted, it looked ordinary for most of the time. On the evidence of the series to date Makhaya Ntini is not worth his place. On D3 he was better than on D2 but rarely looked more than steady. He has an admirable record but there are other considerations which the selectors will bear in mind when the team for the next Test is chosen. Paul Harris also bowled (
to continue in damn-with-faint-praise vein) steadily, yet his 1/92 from 23 ov didn't look as impressive as J P Duminy's 1/39 from 13. Most batters can survive against him by watchful waiting, waiting that is for the far from uncommon loose balls.

With three days gone and the England first innings still in progress a draw looks the likeliest result, and the one which South Africa is probably already resigned to. An England win isn't out of the question but its 4-specialist-bowler attack will need to lift against the solid and deep South African batting, not to mention the pitch.

Scorecard


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