Centurion - It was slow-going on the third morning of the first Castle Lager Test between South Africa and England at Supersport Park on Friday, as the South African bowlers put a stranglehold on the England batsmen, who were only able to add 55 runs for the loss of two wickets.
At lunch, England were 143 for three, still trailing South Africa by 275 runs.
The South African bowlers came out knowing they had to do better than they had done on Thursday afternoon, when, as senior player Jacques Kallis put it, "Our bowling let us down. We allowed too many freebies and we didn't put the ball in the right areas."
It was fitting that it was Makhaya Ntini, who had received a message from former President Nelson Mandela congratulating him on receiving his 100th Test cap, who made a crucial breakthrough in the first 30 minutes of play, when he bowled captain Andrew Strauss for 46. Earlier in the over, one of Ntini's deliveries had shaved the off-stump, and his last ball of the over kept very slow and cannoned into the off-stump.
England had started their innings at a cracking rate, but the South African bowlers gradually pulled the scoring rate back to less than three an over.
Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen - both of whom got their original cricket education in South Africa - put on 21 in exactly an hour before Trott tried to sweep his old friend and former teammate Paul Harris, only to be bowled for 28. He batted for just under three hours and faced 117 balls.
At lunch, Pietersen was not out on 29 and Paul Collingwood had five.
Batting is expected to be difficult on a pitch which is developing some large cracks, after three days of baking sun.
South Africa first innings 418 all out
England first innings (o/n 88/1)
A Strauss b Ntini 46 (137m, 87b, 6x4)
A Cook c Boucher b De Wet 15 (25m, 17b, 3x4)
J Trott b Harris 28 (172m, 117b, 3x4)
K Pietersen not out 29 (92m, 68b, 1x4, 1x6)
P Collingwood not out 5 (33m, 21b, 1x4)
Extras (4b,1lb, 10nb, 5w) 20
Total (for 3 wkt) 143 - 50 overs
Fall of wickets: 1-25 (Cook 5.4), 2-98 (Strauss 28.6), 3-119 (Trott 41.5)
Bowling: Ntini 13-4-25-1, De Wet 12-1-52-1 (5nb, 5w), Morkel 11-0-25-0 (5nb), Harris 14-4-36-1