» » England Vs South Africa 1st Test at London - Jul 19-23, 2012

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After the opening day at The Oval, when Alastair Cook registered yet another century, everything seemed hunky dory for the hosts, and they seemed to be heading towards yet another comfortable Test.

South Africa finished an innings and 12-run victory during the extended post lunch session at The Oval. England’s resistance in their second innings lasted 97 overs as the hosts got bowled out for 240.

South Africa batted brilliantly on the penultimate day of The Oval Test to tighten their grip on the game, and go a long way in putting England under serious pressure.

The Oval Test which was expected to be fizzling out towards a high scoring draw came to life out of nowhere in the final session of Day 4 with the hosts England having their backs to the wall! Infact, England are staring at defeat on the final day having slipped to a miserable 102 for 4 in 38 overs!

South Africa are in a commanding position in the opening Test at The Oval with an imposing total of 403 for 2 in reply to England’s 385 by the close of play on Day 3. Skipper Graeme Smith became only the 8th player to score a hundred in 100th Test. He is also the first ever South African to achieve this rare feat.

As expected, the opening Test between South Africa and England has produced some highly competitive cricket, with no team having the upper hand after two days. The first signs of the series which would officially decide which is the best Test team in the world are highly encouraging.

The final session was hit by heavy rain but with play extended for an hour, not much of play was lost. South Africa faced 26 overs in the final session without losing any wickets at all.

England fought hard against the second new ball to finish Day 1 at 267 for 3 with opener Alastair Cook batting through with an unbeaten century. Cook is batting on 114* (from 283 balls with 11 fours and a six) and has got Ian Bell (10*) at the crease to stretch England towards a big first innings total.

This is officially the series that will decide which is the best team in the world. A win for England will ensure they continue to occupy that position while a triumph for the Proteas will mean that they will topple the hosts. It is not surprising then that neither England nor South Africa will begin the series as favourites.