English all fall down
Top-ranked test team suffers innings defeat at south africa’s hands
Dale Steyn claimed figures of 5-56 as South Africa won the first Investec Test against England at the Kia Oval by an innings and 12 runs today.
England resumed the final day on a vulnerable 102-4 needing to bat out the day to salvage a draw, but after Ravi Bopara fell early in the morning session the writing was on the wall.
Ian Bell (55) and Matt Prior (40) then added 86 in a promising sixth wicket stand but when the latter was snared by leg-spinner Imran Tahir (3-63) it was only a matter of time before Graeme Smith’s side wrapped up the win.
And when Bell edged Steyn to slip after South Africa had taken the second new ball the end was nigh, with the last five wickets falling for 37 runs.
The overnight pair had just completed a 50 stand when Bopara got out in frustrating circumstances for the second time in the match to Steyn.
The number six had contrived to edge a looping bouncer behind as he failed to bail out of a pull shot in the first innings; today, he went after another short ball but edged down on to his stumps as he aimed past point.
Bell would have gone on 20 had AB de Villiers held a thin edge behind off a leg-break in Imran Tahir’s first over.
The Warwickshire batsman appeared to be in for the long haul, though, dealing stoically with South Africa’s powerful and multi-dimensional attack on a surface showing fifth-day wear and tear but by no means unplayable.
While Bell and Matt Prior’s sixth-wicket stand of 86 was intact, there was feasibility about England’s survival.
It lasted well into the afternoon, and took the hosts to within 50 runs of making South Africa bat again – as well as containing the moment when Bell completed his four-hour 50 off 189 balls.
Yet just as English supporters were daring to dream, Prior picked the wrong option – stretching for a sweep at Tahir and toe-ending an edge to slip, via wicketkeeper De Villiers.
More than ever, England depended on Bell, who was reviving memories of his near five hours of resistance in Cape Town when England last defied South Africa two and a half years ago.
But he could not get past the second new ball and Steyn, undone by movement away off the pitch, and the extra pace, with a delivery which appeared to slide off the face of the bat to second slip, where Kallis took his second important catch in the space of half-an-hour.
Steyn doubled up with the wicket of Stuart Broad, caught-behind down the leg-side after a DRS procedure overturned Asad Rauf’s initial not-out verdict.
From 210-8, with no specialist batsmen left, it therefore appeared only the margin of England’s defeat remained to be determined.