| Andrew Hall acknowledges the cheers as he returns to the pavilion, undefeated on 99, during the fourth day of the fourth Test at Headingley on Sunday. (Reuters)
Leeds: South Africa were scenting victory in the fourth Test against England on Sunday after totally outsmarting their hosts.
Resuming the fourth day on 165 for five, they raced to 365 in their second innings to set England a massive 401 to win before reducing them to 165 for five by the close.
Mark Butcher (57) and Andrew Flintoff (45) were at the crease, having put on a face-saving 70 after four of Englandís top six failed to reach double figures.
The game had looked nicely poised in the morning but a South African success, and a 2-1 lead in the five-match series, already looked assured by lunch.
Their lower order, effectively choosing to ignore the unpredictable bounce and seam movement of a poor Headingley wicket, took Englandís all-seam attack apart, adding 129 at five runs an over in the first session.
Andrew Hall then rubbed in Englandís bowling problems with an all-or-nothing, Test-best 99 not out off 87 balls.
The right-hander, who drove and pulled powerfully from the outset, became only the fifth man in Test history to be left stranded one short of a century, as number 11 Dewald Pretorius lost his middle stump to James Kirtley.
The allrounder, batting at nine, was robbed of another landmark ó South Africaís fastest Test century, shared by Jonty Rhodes and Shaun Pollock off 95 deliveries.
Hall opted for attack as the best form of defence.
He mauled James Anderson before winning a continuing personal duel with Flintoff by pulling him for a six and then adding two more fours in the same over.
When Kirtley came on, he was dispatched for a low, tracer-like six over long on.
Again, every South African contributed.
In the first innings, the last three wickets had added 200 ó Englandís last three, by comparison, were worth 14 ó and in the second the last five made 205.
Pretorius, despite feeling wretched over his part in Hallís disappointment, still managed to help add 54 at a run a ball for the final wicket.
In contrast, plenty of big names failed to contribute when England batted again.
Knowing only three sides in Test history had ever scored more in the fourth innings to win a Test and perhaps unnerved by the pitch, they soon floundered to 95 for five.
Only Butcher, who top-scored with 77 in the first innings, and Flintoff seemed mentally strong enough to deal with the challenge of an idiosyncratic strip.
The collapse, however, was prompted not by the wicket but by one moment of brilliance from Herschelle Gibbs.
He allowed an edge from Marcus Trescothick off Ntini to pop out of his fingers, soap-like, as he tumbled to his right at third slip but grasped the rebound with his left hand in a split-second reaction.
Trescothick made four, Vaughan 21 as he was tempted into a drive at a Jacques Kallis outswinger, Nasser Hussain cobbled six and Ed Smith and Alec Stewart seven.