South African fast bowlers Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn took three wickets each and ensured that the third Test against England remained evenly balanced after the second day’s play at Newlands on Monday.
England were 241 for seven at the close, 50 behind South Africa’s first innings total of 291.
Thanks mainly to Morkel, who took three for 57, and Steyn (three for 64), England were unable to take control despite ripping through the South African lower batting order early in the day.
“The bowlers came out and showed what they can do,” said all-rounder Jacques Kallis.
“The guys have really stepped up to the plate and delivered the goods as we know they can and as they did in Australia and England (in winning series in 2008).”
England top-scorer Alastair Cook, who made 65, gave credit to the bowlers too. “They kept us under constant pressure,” he said.
Kallis felt South Africa had a slight edge in their quest to level the four-match series, despite having struggled early on after being sent in on Sunday and losing their last four wickets for 12 runs at the start of Monday’s play.
“If we can knock over the tail and then our batsmen get through the new ball we will probably be ahead of the game,” said Kallis, who felt a final innings target of 300 or more would be difficult for England to chase down.
“It’s a very different Newlands wicket. It’s a bit more uneven and perhaps done a little more than what we are used to.”
England’s remaining batsmen, led by wicketkeeper Matt Prior, on 52 not out, will be in a similar situation to South Africa on Monday when they resume on the third day. The South African bowlers will be armed with an almost-new ball and according to Kallis the pitch has a history of being tricky to bat on early in the day.
Kallis himself was out to the first ball he faced on Monday, edging Graham Onions to Prior without adding to his overnight score of 108.
James Anderson then scythed through the last three wickets, finishing with five for 63, his eighth five-wicket haul in Tests.
Morkel had captain Andrew Strauss caught behind in the first over of the England innings and the tourists slipped to 36 for three when Steyn dismissed Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen in the space of three balls.
Seven wickets fell during a dramatic morning’s play and another wicket fell soon after the interval when Paul Collingwood was leg before wicket to Morkel for 19.
Cook, playing what he described as his “patience game”, followed up his century when England won the second Test in Durban by an innings and 98 runs with another careful innings, leaving as many deliveries as possible.
He took 112 balls to post his fifty, hitting five fours, and faced 136 balls before scooping a catch to midwicket off Morkel in the first over after tea. He and Ian Bell ground out 60 runs for the fifth wicket in 111 minutes off 158 balls.
Prior played and missed several times but survived to add 41 with Bell.
Bell, another century-maker in Durban, never got on top of the bowling and faced 121 balls before slapping a short ball from Jacques Kallis to backward point.