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Petersen grinds out century for South Africa

Hashim Amla (left) is run out by England's wicketkeeper Matt Prior (© 2009 AFP)

Opening batsman Alviro Petersen ground out a century as South Africa and England finished on even terms on the first day of the second Test at Headingley on Thursday.

Petersen made 124 not out as South Africa reached 262 for five at the close after being sent in to bat.

South African captain AB de Villiers said the batsmen had done well in difficult conditions, with Petersen outstanding.

“It’s difficult to say who has come out on top on points but I thought we played really well. The guys assessed the conditions well,” said De Villiers.

England opening bowler James Anderson felt two late wickets with the second new ball had given the home side a slight edge after a frustrating start to the day which included a dropped catch and fast bowler Steven Finn being denied a wicket when dead ball was called after he bumped into the stumps at the bowler’s end while delivering the ball.

England gambled by picking an all-pace attack and sending South Africa in on a largely sunny morning.

South Africa reached 84 for no wicket at lunch but the conditions changed dramatically in favour of the bowlers as heavy clouds swept in after the break. Rain extended the tea interval by an hour and ten minutes.

Petersen was the only South African batsman to miss out when his side compiled a massive 637 for two declared on the way to an innings win in the first Test.

Out for a duck at the Oval he rode his luck, being dropped on 29 and surviving several play and misses and shots off the edge.

He saw all three South African centurions at the Oval dismissed, including triple centurion Hashim Amla, who was run out for nine in a mix-up with Petersen, but battled through to the close.

Petersen and De Villiers put on 97 for the fourth wicket before De Villiers was bowled by Stuart Broad in the third over with the second new ball, to be followed soon afterwards by nightwatchman Dale Steyn, who was bowled by Finn for nought.

Petersen reached 50 off just 78 balls with seven fours, dominating the strike while captain Graeme Smith made only 10, but went on the defensive as South Africa lost three wickets after lunch. It took him another 137 balls to notch his fourth Test century.

Petersen and captain Graeme Smith put on 120 for the first wicket before Smith flicked Tim Bresnan to backward square leg to be caught for 52.

Hashim Amla followed soon afterwards and England’s third success came when Jacques Kallis was caught low down at second slip by Alastair Cook off Anderson for 19.

Smith’s wicket was the first success for England in six hours and two minutes of play, during which 497 runs were scored, 377 of them in an unbeaten third wicket partnership between Amla and Kallis at the Oval. South Africa won the first Test by an innings and 12 runs.

Petersen was dropped at second slip off Anderson when he had 29, with Cook putting down a straightforward chance just below waist height.

Cook was fielding in the slips because England dropped Graeme Swann, ending a sequence of 43 successive Tests for the off-spinner. Three balls earlier Petersen edged Anderson at catchable height between third slip and gully for four.

In the next over fast bowler Finn, who replaced Swann, was denied a wicket when Smith, on six, edged him to England captain Andrew Strauss at first slip.

But umpire Steve Davis had called ‘dead ball’ because Finn broke the stumps at the bowler’s end with his right knee.

It was the fourth time Finn’s knee made contact with the stumps but the first time the umpire intervened. There were four further dead ball calls against Finn, with two of them denying boundaries for Smith.

According to a statement by the MCC, the custodians of the laws, Davis acted correctly in terms of the laws after both batsmen complained that the noise of the stumps being broken at the bowler’s end was a distraction.

Signature : Colin Bryden LEEDS, England (AFP)

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