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Cook keeps England afloat as South Africa's bowlers hit back

Battling innings by Alastair Cook (photo) and Matt Prior helped the tourists close on 241 for seven, still 50 runs behind South Africa, after the bowling duo of Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn put the hosts in command on day two of the third Test.

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REUTERS - Seamers Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn took three England wickets each to lift South Africa on the second day of the third Test on Monday. 

England, replying to the hosts' 291, reached 241 for seven at the close thanks to battling innings by Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Matt Prior.

Cook fell just after tea for 65, paddling Morkel to midwicket, and Prior and Bell added 41 for the sixth wicket before Bell cut the nagging seam bowling of Jacques Kallis straight to backward point.

Bell made 48 in nearly three hours at the crease and Prior, who survived several anxious moments, completed his 12th test half-century two balls before the close. He finished unbeaten on 52 with Graeme Swann on five.

South Africa, resuming on 279 for six, lost four wickets for 12 runs in a dramatic collapse in the morning.

Centurion Jacques Kallis fell to the first ball he faced, the second of the morning, when he edged a superb away-swinger from Graham Onions to wicketkeeper Prior for 108.

Sharp catch

Steyn also failed to add to his score of 26 when he edged James Anderson's first ball of the day into the slips, Jonathan Trott taking a sharp catch.

Anderson gained reward for his top-class swing bowling when he dismissed Morkel, Swann taking a superb diving catch at second slip, and Friedel de Wet for ducks to complete fine figures of five for 63.

England were quickly in trouble when captain Andrew Strauss edged a flat-footed drive at an away-swinger from Morkel to be caught behind for two.

Cook and Jonathan Trott took the score confidently to 36 before Steyn struck twice in his third over.

Trott, who had cruised to 20, chopped a delivery into his stumps and, two balls later, Kevin Pietersen sent an ambitious drive straight back to the bowler who reacted sharply to take a one-handed catch.

Paul Collingwood was the only wicket to fall in the afternoon session, trapped lbw by Morkel for 19.

South Africa are 1-0 down in the four-match series having lost by an innings in the second test in Durban last week.

 

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