Bairstow, Bell rescue England after early slide

Duo lead hosts' fightback with half-tons

Jonathan Bairstow rewarded England’s decision to recall him in place of Kevin Pietersen with a maiden Test fifty as they fought back on the second day of their series finale with South Africa at Lord’s here on Friday.

South African pacer Dale Steyn celebrates after scalping England’s Alastair Cook on day two of the third Test at Lord’s on Friday. REUTERSBairstow came in when England, just as the tourists had done in their first innings, had collapsed to 54 for four.

But by stumps England were 208 for five.
Bairstow was 72 not out, having added 124 for the fifth wicket with Ian Bell (58). Matt Prior was unbeaten on 22.

However, that left England still 101 runs adrift of South Africa’s 309, with the Proteas, 1-0 up in the three-match series, only needing to avoid defeat to replace their hosts as the world’s top-ranked Test side.

Bairstow, dropped by England after making a mere 38 runs during his first three Tests against the West Indies earlier this season, was under severe pressure -- especially following Pietersen’s 149 in the drawn second Test at Headingley.

Despite that brilliant innings, England axed the South Africa-born Pietersen after he sent “provocative” texts, believed to be critical of his team-mates, to Proteas players.

When the 22-year-old Bairstow walked out, Dale Steyn had taken two wickets for one run in four balls and fellow fast bowler Morne Morkel two for three in 11.

Morkel struck first when, off the last ball before lunch, he bowled England captain Andrew Strauss, playing his 100th Test and 50th as skipper on his Middlesex home ground, between bat and pad with a well-directed delivery from around the wicket.

Steyn then removed Jonathan Trott, leg before wicket on review, and Alastair Cook, well caught by Jacques Kallis at second slip, for single figure scores.

Bairstow struggled with the short ball against the West Indies and South Africa posted a short leg as they tried to work the Yorkshireman over.

But despite taking 13 balls to get off the mark and looking decidedly uncomfortable, Bairstow eventually pulled the tall Morkel for four before Bell, with typical elegance, drove Steyn to the boundary.

Both batsmen got away with some streaky edges but there was no doubt about Bairstow’s on-driven four off leg-spinner Imran Tahir.

A fortunate steer through the slips off Morkel saw Bairstow, who last week made a hundred for the second-string England Lions against Australia A, to fifty off 86 balls including eight fours.

Score board

SOUTH AFRICA (I Innings, O/n: 262/7):
Smith c Prior b Anderson    14
Petersen c Prior b Finn    22
Amla b Finn    13
Kallis c Prior b Finn    3
De Villiers c Cook b Anderson    27
Rudolph b Swann    42
Duminy c Prior b Anderson    61
Philander st Prior b Swann    61
Steyn c Swann b Broad    26
Morkel c Prior b Finn    25
Tahir (not out)    2
Extras (B-7, LB-5, W-1)    13
Total (all out, 101.2 overs)    309
Fall of wickets: 1-22, 2-49, 3-50, 4-54, 5-105, 6-163, 7-235, 8-270, 9-307.
Bowling: Anderson 29-5-76-3, Broad 24-4-69-1, Finn 18-2-75-4, Swann 24.2-6-63-2, Trott 6-1-14-0.
ENGLAND (I Innings):
Strauss b Morkel    20
Cook c Kallis b Steyn    7
Trott lbw Steyn    8
Bell c Petersen b Philander    58
Taylor c Smith b Morkel    10
Bairstow (batting)    72
Prior (batting)    22
Extras (LB-6, W-1, NB-4)    11
Total (for 5 wkts, 72 overs)    208
Fall of wickets: 1-29, 2-38, 3-39, 4-54, 5-178.
Bowling: Morkel 19-5-53-2, Philander 16-8-30-1, Steyn 16-3-48-2, Kallis 9-2-26-0, Tahir 12-3-45-0.

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