LONDON, England, July 9 (Reuters) - England lost seven wickets for 63 runs on Sunday after South Africa struck back in search of an unlikely victory on the morning of the fourth day of the first test at Lord‘s.
Resuming on 119-1, Joe Root’s England side failed to make their anticipated progress on a pitch of uneven bounce, reaching 182-8 at lunch with Johnny Bairstow and Mark Wood unbeaten on 28 and 0 respectively.
England’s lead of 279 still looks formidable in tricky conditions favouring all the bowlers. Only three test teams have ever won by chasing more than 300 at Lord‘s.
Morne Morkel led the South African fightback, bowling with pace and intelligence, adding the wickets of former captain Alastair Cook (69) and Gary Ballance (34) to his Saturday victim Keaton Jennings.
Neither of England’s overnight pair were able to force the pace, with Cook being especially watchful in his 192-ball knock before falling to a sharp catch by Temba Bavuma in the covers.
Yorkshire batsman Ballance failed to produce a big score to justify his recall to test cricket, nicking a ball from Morkel that angled in before darting away off the seam to the keeper.
Root, who scored 190 in the first innings, tried to assert himself but misjudged a ball from Keshav Maharaj which he edged on to his stumps on 5.
When Ben Stokes departed for a single, lbw to Kagiso Rabada, three runs later to a ball that kept low, England were in disarray at 149-5.
The wicket was particularly sweet for the bowler, who has been banned from the next test for swearing at Stokes when dismissing him in the first innings. This time Rabada put his finger to his lips as if to signal shush.
It could have been even better for the tourists had Vernon Philander not spilled a simple catch off Bairstow on the boundary but they struck further blows before the interval.
Moeen Ali was bowled by Maharaj for seven and Liam Dawson, fooled by Rabada’s low full toss, for 0 -- his second duck of the match.
To complete a marvellous morning for South Africa, Stuart Broad fell to a first-ball duck, caught close in trying to fend off a ball from Maharaj, who has now taken three wickets. (Reporting by Neil Robinson)