Flintoff wages lone battle
Andrew Flintoff's 200th Test wicket could not prevent South Africa moving into a first-innings lead on the second day at Edgbaston.
Last Updated: 01/08/08 6:21pm
Third npower Test Match
England 231 (A N Cook 76, I R Bell 50) v South Africa 256-6 (N D McKenzie 72, J H Kallis 64, A Flintoff 4-68)
Andrew Flintoff's 200th Test wicket could not prevent South Africa moving into a first-innings lead on a rain-interrupted second day at Edgbaston.
Flintoff removed Proteas opener Neil McKenzie for 72 during an extended afternoon session to become the 12th Englishman to achieve the landmark.
And the Lancashire all-rounder returned after another rain delay to end Jacques Kallis' staunch resistance during an electrifying passage of play late in the day.
Kallis was comprehensively yorked and AB de Villiers soon followed, hooking a Flintoff bouncer straight down Ryan Sidebottom's throat on the fine-leg boundary.
But despite the Flintoff's best efforts, South Africa reached 256-6, a lead of 25, when bad light brought a premature end to proceedings.
South Africa lead the four-match rubber 1-0 and victory in the third Test will secure their first series success in England since their readmission to the international game in 1992.
They resumed at 38-1, trailing by 193, hoping to drive home their advantage after England were dismissed for a lowly 231 during a dismal opening day batting effort.
And the hosts' frustration did continue as nightwatchman Paul Harris - boasting a Test average of 8.11 - produced 89 minutes of defiance.
The best chance of a breakthrough during the early stages seemed to rest with Flintoff, who claimed a wicket with his second ball on Wednesday evening when he removed captain Graeme Smith, and he almost succeeded in the seventh over of the day.
McKenzie consistently left anything wide outside off-stump but Flintoff finally found the right line and induced an edge that went low to Andrew Strauss at first slip.
Strauss informed the onfield umpires Aleem Dar and Steve Davis that he was unsure if it carried and, when it was referred to third umpire Ian Gould, the television pictures were inconclusive.
That reprieve for McKenzie on 29 was one of few chances created by England during a disappointing morning in which Harris continued to taunt them with an idiosyncratic technique that often resulted in aerial strokes falling between fielders.
Left-arm seamer Sidebottom finally made the breakthrough in the 17th over of the day by angling the ball across Harris (19), who edged to Alastair Cook at third slip.
New batsman Hashim Amla (9) lasted just five overs after lunch when he got an inside edge onto his pads facing James Anderson, who reacted quickest and dived one-handed towards cover to take a superb catch.
And four overs later Flintoff finally broke McKenzie's resistance with an lbw verdict from umpire Dar that ended the becalmed opener's near three-hour innings at 72.
McKenzie should have been dismissed for 57 when he edged the same bowler to Paul Collingwood at second slip only for the regulation catch to end up on the grass.
Kallis, the only memeber of his side's top order without a score in opening two Tests, teamed up with Prince to take South Africa to tea at 205-4.
Another shower prevented an immediate resumption but, when the weather cleared and play did restart at 4.55 pm, it was well worth the wait.
Flintoff worked up a furious pace and gave a visibly uncomfortable Kallis a serious working over - umpire Dar's decision to turn down what looked a plumb lbw shout further raised the red-hot temperature of a compelling duel.
Kallis' reprieve was only temporary as, in Flintoff's next over, the umpire was taken out of the equation by a yorker that uprooted the stumps and sent him on his way for 64.
And de Villiers soon became Flintoff's (4-68) fourth wicket of the innings when he helped a short ball straight to Sidebottom at fine-leg.
Prince (37no) was joined by Mark Boucher (11no) and the seventh-wicket pair rode their luck before bad light came to the rescue.