Prior still sees victory chance

Time and weather not on England's side at Headingley

Last Updated: 05/08/12 8:47pm

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Matt Prior insists England have not given up hope of winning the second Test after rain and South Africa's openers repelled their push for victory on the penultimate day.

Kevin Pietersen failed to add to his overnight 149, an innings that single-handedly turned this match on its head, but Matt Prior's counter-attacking 68 helped the hosts to 425 all out - a lead of just six.

And hopes were high that England could force the initiative as Alviro Petersen, who struck 182 for the Proteas, would only bat if needed due to a hamstring strain, while fellow opener Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis were carrying knee and back injuries respectively.

However, Smith, with strapping on his sore left knee, and makeshift opener Jacques Rudolph carried South Africa to 39-0 from 17 overs before rain brought about an early finish at Headingley.

Early wickets

Prior told Sky Sports: "We know that if we come in hard tomorrow and put them under pressure you never know what can happen.

"If we get a few early wickets we've got an opportunity to push hard and win.

"It's a bit disappointing to not get a bit more of a lead but having said that, to get just ahead was good."

Prior hailed Pietersen's impressive knock on day three, claiming the pressure is now on South Africa, who are ahead 1-0 in the series after flattening Andrew Strauss' side by an-innings-and-12 runs in the opening Test.

Although England's seamers failed to take a wicket, their wicketkeeper-batsman felt they bowled well and felt opening pair James Anderson and Stuart Broad were unlucky.

"If we get a few early wickets we've got an opportunity to push hard and win."
Matt Prior Quotes of the week

"We didn't enjoy the Oval much but this game has been far better. Hats off to South Africa, they're a very good team and they've played very good cricket so far," Prior said.

"But I think the way we bounced back yesterday, KP's innings was superb and we went ahead of them today.

"I thought the way we went out and bowled was absolutely fantastic - Jimmy (James Anderson) and Broady (Stuart Broad) set it up perfectly.

"We were unlucky not to get a few nicks or a few wickets early on but the pressure is now on them.

"It's probably the first time in this series they've had to soak up a bit of pressure so if we can come in tomorrow and get a few early wickets then you never know what can happen."

In the mood

South Africa seamer Morne Morkel found himself on the end of some of Pietersen's most brutal punishment - and agrees with Prior about his opponent's talents.

"You can't tell me any team in the world would say no to him," said Morkel. "The way he played yesterday was just one of those KP innings.

"When he's in that sort of mood, he's a very tough guy to bowl to."

South Africa captain Smith had to bat with the pain of a sore knee, for which a full diagnosis will be sought after this match.

The tourists' team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee said their "main concern" is Kallis' back spasm. But they are hoping both senior players, and opener Alviro Petersen - who has a hamstring strain - will be fully fit for the final Test at Lord's.

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