ENGLAND bowler Steven Finn has challenged his team-mates to become heroes in today’s fifth day of the summer’s final Test against South Africa, as they struggle to defend their position as the No 1 ranked Test side in the world.
Two early dismissals yesterday evening left England floundering on 16-2, still requiring 330 to win, after the visitors ended their second innings all out for 351.
Yet Finn had brought Lord’s to life in the afternoon sun, using the new ball to knock over three of the visitors’ crucial batsmen, and is now hoping for an unlikely victory.
“As a team collectively over the last number of years, we’ve enjoyed breaking records and defying people’s belief against us,” Finn said.
“We’ve got a 15-over old ball to bat against [this morning] – which isn’t going to do as much as a new ball obviously. We’ve got a great opportunity to assert ourselves on the South Africans early, and we really do believe in the dressing room that we can win this game.”
Yesterday’s morning session began with England keen to claim early wickets, yet it took Andrew Strauss’s side until the ninth over to dismiss the nightwatchman, Dale Steyn. And even those celebrations were short-lived, when two overs later James Anderson dropped a chance at mid-wicket after good bowling by Graeme Swann.
A passing rainstorm caused lunch to be brought forward with South Africa still only four wickets down. And almost immediately after the break England’s misery was compounded as Hashim Amla got his first boundary of the day to reach a century.
Yet a new ball provided fresh optimism for England, and Finn finally bowled Amla for 121, with a stunning ball that straightened up and clipped the stumps.
And just two overs later Finn got AB de Villiers caught behind as he terrorised the visitors’ defence. Half a dozen overs later and Finn struck again, this time claiming Jacques Rudolph with another near-unplayable fast delivery.
But South Africa, vying to overtake England as the world’s top Test side, fought back, putting on 52 more runs for the eighth wicket before their tail eventually succumbed.
Reaching 351 second innings runs, Graeme Smith’s men set England an imposing target of requiring 346 runs to win. Yet England’s chase started disastrously as Vernon Philander caught both Strauss and Alastair Cook LBW to claim two early wickets. Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott resume the batting this morning.