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Prior frustrates resurgent Proteas
Counter-attacking Matt Prior pushed England up to 385 all out, despite a Dale Steyn-inspired fightback from South Africa on a rain-interrupted second day of the first Investec Test.
A resurgent Steyn removed England centurion Alastair Cook, and then Ravi Bopara for a duck, among four wickets for only 59 runs in the morning.
However, as black clouds somehow skirted the Kia Oval, and presumably dumped their contents nearby, Prior (60) still helped England from their start-of-play 267 for three to recover a little composure and put themselves within sight of 400 when they were all out in mid-afternoon.
The long-threatened storm broke almost immediately after tea, but South Africa still had time to reach 86 for the loss of Alviro Petersen thanks to a studied and unbroken stand between Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla.
Cook (115) dug in throughout on Thursday, but the game changed in two successive wicket maidens from Steyn. The seamless accumulation of day one was replaced by England's struggle to retain control as Steyn upped the ante and then Jacques Kallis stifled resistance.
South Africa's world premier fast bowler had a point to prove, and wasted little time doing so. In his second over, Steyn tempted Cook to drive and bowled him off an inside edge to end his 295-ball vigil. With Cook gone, a big moment came and went for Bopara - returning for his first Test since last year at this venue.
He was bamboozled by an odd, looping bouncer from Steyn. Bopara lined himself up for the pull, and when he tried to bail out somehow managed only to offer a straightforward catch behind after the ball ran over the face of his bat.
It took until the 19th over of the morning for England to at last bring up the 300, Tim Bresnan doing the job in style with a flamboyant extra-cover drive for four, before succumbing in Imran Tahir's first over, edging down on to his stumps as he tried to force a leg-break into the off-side off the back foot.
Prior, who reached his half-century off 75 deliveries, lost his chum Stuart Broad, another bowled by one that just clipped the bails - this time from Philander. Prior went himself, edging Morkel (four for 72) behind as he looked for his trademark off-side outlet, and last man James Anderson became stand-in wicketkeeper AB de Villiers' fifth catch of the innings in the same over.
The tourists' reply suffered an early setback when Anderson snaked an inswinger through Petersen's defences, to the back pad, to have him lbw for nought. But from one for one, captain Smith and Amla saw their team safely to stumps in a promising partnership either side of a near two-hour rain delay.