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Petersen ton powers Proteas

England left to rue costly errors in the field after leaving out Swann

Alviro Petersen: hit his fourth Test century after being dropped by Alastair Cook on 29

Steven Finn: saw a wicket ruled out after knocking over the stumps, resulting in a dead-ball

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Alviro Petersen became the latest South African batsman to plunder runs against England, helping the tourists to just about take the honours on the first day of the second Test.

Opener Petersen had registered a duck in the series opener, making him the only Protea not to reach three figures in their impressive innings victory.

However, he made amends for his failure in the capital with an unbeaten 124 at Headingley, sharing in stands of 120 with captain Graeme Smith (52) and then 97 with AB de Villiers, who fell late on to the second new ball for 47.

England also took out nightwatchman Dale Steyn thanks to Steven Finn, picked in place of spinner Graeme Swann to form a four-pronged seam attack, as South Africa closed on 262-5 having been put into bat.

Dead-ball call

Finn would've also had a wicket in his first spell of the day had it not been for a dead-ball call for breaking the stumps in his delivery stride.

It was a second setback in a frustrating morning for England, with Petersen having already been dropped by Alastair Cook at second slip, a position that normally would have been filled by Swann. It was to prove a very costly error with the right-hander still going strong at stumps.

Skipper Andrew Strauss made no such mistake when an opportunity came his way off the edge of Smith's blade, only for umpire Steve Davis to punish bowler Finn for knocking off the bails.

England pleaded their case but to no avail; the Australian official remained consistent in his stance, too, calling dead-ball on two further occasions during the recalled paceman's opening burst.

The wicket that wasn't meant England's bowlers' lean spell against the Proteas stretched on and on, and on, eventually reaching 138 overs before they finally had a legal breakthrough in the afternoon session.

It was Smith who they last dismissed at the Oval and, alas, it was Smith who fell again, the left-hander clipping a fairly innocuous delivery from Tim Bresnan off his pads straight to Ian Bell at a purposely-positioned backward square leg.

The first wicket brought Hashim Amla to the crease, the man England had seen plenty of - in fact for the small matter of 790 minutes - during the first Test.

Powerful throw

This time, though, they found a way to see the back of him quickly. Well, in truth Petersen did the hard work for them, the two South Africans getting in a right mix-up over a third run that resulted in the triple centurion being run out for a mere nine by Bresnan's powerful throw from the deep.

When Cook made amends for his earlier indiscretion in the slips by clinging on to a toe-end off Jacques Kallis' bat, England had taken three wickets for 37 runs, a positive deluge considering their drought so far in the series.

But, just as they seemed to have momentum on their side, the rain arrived to force an early tea and delay the evening's play by over an hour.

On their return Petersen and de Villiers went about putting South Africa back on top, something they did comfortably enough up until the new ball.

Indecisiveness cost de Villiers his wicket, playing on to a revitalised Stuart Broad just three short of 50, and Finn proved too quick for poor Steyn. The late double was a timely boost for England on an otherwise frustrating day.