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England face uphill task Published: 19 August 2012

Late wickets meant England left themselves a mountain to climb to win the third and final Test against South Africa and retain their number one Test ranking.

England 16/2 & 315 require a further 330 runs to beat South Africa 309 & 351

Vernon Philander capped off a fine day for the tourists by dismissing Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook to reduce the hosts to 6/2. Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell weathered the storm but they begin the final day of the series with an England record chase of 346 ahead of them.

Hashim Amla's brilliant second century at Lord's earlier helped South Africa reach 351 all out, frustrating England's bowlers for the majority of the day.

Steven Finn bowled a magnificent spell in the afternoon session, dismissing Amla, AB de Villiers and Jacques Rudolph in quick succession to raise hopes of keeping the chase below 300.

But Philander and JP Duminy once again combined to frustrate Andrew Strauss' attack with a half-century partnership. And Philander then got in on the act with the ball, dismissing both openers LBW in an inspired burst.

Ebb and flow

England knew the new ball was likely to be their biggest chance of winning the Test and with Dale Steyn at the crease after standing in as nightwatchman the night before, the bowlers had extra reason to feel confident of getting an early breakthrough.

Steyn was peppered, taking a nasty blow to the hand, before Stuart Broad persuaded him to hit a bouncer straight up in the air, caught by short leg.

That was England's only success of the morning session though, and Amla continued where he has been for most of this series, driving sumptuously and playing the spin of Graeme Swann with caution and great skill.

Amla's 16th century in Tests was brought up off Jonathan Trott as England hurried the overs before the new ball, but its introduction made little difference. Broad has lacked consistency in this Test and Anderson looked tired as Amla and de Villiers played with agression - South Africa's wicket-keeper batsman hitting his first two balls for boundaries.

Strauss found more control with his other two bowlers in operation, and it was Finn and Swann who exerted some pressure on the batsmen. Finn produced the ball of the match to Amla, moving one back up the slope and getting it past the batsman's forward prod and into the top of off stump - no mean feat to a man on 121.

Amla left to generous applause and the crowd were quickly re-engaged with a match which had lost its zip as Finn added the wickets of de Villiers and Rudolph to complete a golden spell of 3/14 in just 29 balls.

Strauss chose to remove his on-song quick after seven overs of aggression and England never managed to match that level of intensity, with Philander and Duminy establishing themselves well.

Philander has proved himself a fine number eight in this series and he played one of the shots of the match off Broad, driving him straight and into the fence in front of the Pavilion.

South Africa's demise came quickly after he was dismissed, but with the target up towards 350, England needed a strong start. However Philander spoiled the party, finding some decent swing to trap Cook and benefiting from a poor lapse in judgement from Strauss, who left a straight ball and exited his 100th Test in disastrous style.


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