What a wonderful contest between bat and ballthe third day of the Lord’s Test produced, befitting a battle between the two best teams in the world. With both teams scoring almost the same number of runs in the first innings, the runs scored till then got nullified, and the contest is now all about the second innings performance of the teams. Here as well, the battle has been closely contested till now, and we have no clear idea as to which side has its noses in front at the moment.
With a lead of 139 and seven wickets in hand, South Africa will be keen to add as many runs as possible on the fourth day, while the target for England would be to try and bowl the Proteas out for somewhere around 275. Hashim Amla will be among the key batsmen for South Africa on the penultimate day of the Test. He has been the one who has held the Proteas innings together in the second innings. Alviro Petersen, Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis all fell after getting starts, and a lot will not depend on how far Amla stretches in innings, and also on the performance of the likes of Jacques Rudolph and J P Duminy.
South Africans might feel that they have their noses slightly in front at the moment, considering their potent bowling attack. England, on the other hand, have no option but to go all-out on day four, and they also possess the arsenal to roll over South Africa. Come to think of it, both teams will be pleased with their performance in the Test so far. If South Africa recovered from early setbacks on day one to post a decent total, England also fought back commendably well after being in deep trouble in their first innings. Unexpectedly, the sacking of Kevin Pietersen turned out to be more of a boon and less of a bane, as his replacement Jonny Bairstow nearly registered his maiden ton at Lord’s. And, now, in their second essay, the South African batsmen have put up a much more solid effort, but England bowlers too would be satisfied with the way they have kept things in the balance.
Whether England remain number one or South Africa grab that spot would now solely depend on how the two teams perform on the last two days of the Test. An intriguing finish is in store for a fantastic context, unless of course one of the sides crumble in inexplicable fashion.
--By A Cricket Analyst