KEVIN PIETERSEN suffered yet another Test agony to leave England facing a gruelling uphill battle to save the third Test with South Africa at Newlands.
The out-of-form batsman lasted just 22 balls before playing across his stumps to fall lbw to paceman Dale Steyn – adding to his second-ball duck in the first innings.
It left England floundering on 132-3 going into the final day, needing an unlikely 466 to take an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
Pietersen’s wicket completed a disastrous final hour for the tourists after openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook fell in quick succession having put on 101 for the first wicket.
And Cook, who notched his second half-century of the match before mistiming a pull from Friedel de Wet, admits England have it all to do.
“The scraps continue,” the Essex vice-captain said. “We have to fight like we have done in previous games and try and get a draw out of this.
“We’ve got 90 overs to bat out tomorrow. We know the task ahead of us. We’ve done it in the past and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”
Although victory is improbable, the Newlands pitch still favours the batsmen and England will fancy their chances of seeing out the final day and protecting their 1-0 lead going into the final Test in Johannesburg.
Jonathan Trott starts the day unbeaten on 24, alongside nightwatchman James Anderson, with recognised batsmen Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell and Matt Prior and a strong tail still to come.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith resumed on 162 but failed to notch a third double century against England, eventually falling to Graham Onions just 17 runs short.
Jacques Kallis (46), JP Duminy (36) and AB de Villiers (34) all contributed as the Proteas declared on 447-7 after lunch to leave England a day and a half to survive.
Left-handers Strauss and Cook batted bravely to see off explosive spells from Steyn and Morne Morkel with the new ball to give the tourists hope with a valuable century partnership.
But once Cook top-edged a De Wet delivery for 55, Strauss soon followed, ballooning a bat/pad defensive shot from spinner Paul Harris to Hashim Amla at short-leg just 18 balls later.
Pietersen was in great need of an innings but after surviving one lbw appeal, he succumbed to a second from Steyn, leaving Trott to lead the charge.