| Andrew Hall snaps up Alec Stewart at Headingley on Saturday. (Reuters)
Leeds, Aug. 23 (Reuters): South Africa, leaning heavily on Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis, turned the tables on England as they smuggled their way back into the fourth Test on Saturday.
England began the third day with the edge after dictating the pace. But South Africa ended it best placed, on 164 for five in the second innings, with an overall lead of 199 on a track growing more waspish and capricious with each passing hour.
While the home side had struggled in the conditions, they resumed on 197 for three and tumbled to 307 all out, Kirsten and Kallis proved that superior technique could do much to master a diet of rearing deliveries and shooters.
Kirsten, who made 130 in the first innings, chiselled out another 60. He added 97 for the third wicket with Kallis who made 41. They had come together at a critical time with South Africa were tottering on 31 for two.
Kallis also had the perfect start to the day. He produced a swinging, seaming first ball of the day which dismissed Ed Smith.
Nasser Hussain was the only Englishman with the patience and stubbornness to survive for long as he made 42. But wickets began to fall at the other end. Andrew Flintoff’s 64-ball 55 was the only other meaningful contribution.
The giant allrounder, spilled on six by a diving Neil McKenzie at deep square-leg, he ignored the widening cracks and crevices in the wicket to heave Kallis for two fours, Pretorius for two sixes and 16 off an over and Makhaya Ntini for a six and four off consecutive deliveries.
But in a miserable collapse, six wickets fell for 68 just when England, condemned to bat last, needed to dig in to give themselves hope. Flintoff, partners melting way, was last out, bowled slogging at Ntini who finished with three wickets.
Kallis came away with the best figures, a remarkable three for 38 off 20.1 overs. By the evening, he was producing a similar masterclass with the bat as South Africa began to sense victory.
Kirsten said the Headingley wicket had turned into a “lottery” for batsmen after the third day.
Asked about the wicket, which saw deliveries rear up off a length throughout the fourth day, he said: “It’s interesting! For the batters, it’s a lottery — there’s uneven bounce, the ball is going through the top and it’s keeping low. It’s hard work.
“I think you need a bit of luck now more than ever.”