Fiery Flintoff keeps England alive

Published: Friday, August 1, 2008, 1:01 [IST]
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Birmingham: England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff said his side were "right back in it" after he won a stirring duel with South African batting star Jacques Kallis during a fiery spell on the second day of the second Test at Edgbaston Thursday.

South Africa were 256 for six at the close in reply to England's 231 all out but Flintoff said his late burst, which also brought the wicket of AB de Villiers, had lifted English hopes of rescuing a series which they trail 1-0.

On a day of poor light and three interruptions for rain, South Africa seemed to have wrested control as Kallis and Ashwell Prince put on 89 for the fifth wicket.

But Flintoff, who finished with four for 68, produced six overs of high-quality fast bowling late in the day to dismiss Kallis for 64, following up with the wicket of De Villiers for five.

The duel with Kallis ignited a crowd which for most of the two days had been mainly quiet as they watched England struggling.

"It was an important hour for us," said Flintoff.

"We're right back in it, we've just got to go hard again in the morning."

With the light fading, Flintoff bowled a yorker which narrowly missed the stumps and which Kallis did not appear to see. Flintoff followed up with two bouncers and a fuller length ball at which Kallis played and missed.

Flintoff deceived Kallis with another yorker which glanced off the edge of the batsman's boot and missed the stumps by millimetres. Umpire Aleem Dar turned down the appeal but five balls later Flintoff produced a superb yorker which swung away and sent Kallis' off stump flying out of the ground.

After the appeal, Flintoff appeared to protest vigorously to umpire Dar. He said: "I was just chuntering - it was just an aimless rant I think. I went in to see him afterwards and I apologised. It was just emotion. I went in and shook his hand and we're friends again."

De Villiers hit a boundary off Flintoff before hooking a catch to Ryan Sidebottom at long leg.

Mark Boucher came out and also appeared not to see a Flintoff yorker, with the sightscreen not high enough for the batsmen to see the ball coming out of his hand.

Flintoff said: "Yorkers are probably a bit under-used at times. I tried to slip a few in and it seemed coming out of the committee room windows they struggled to see them."

Kallis agreed.

"I don't think the light was an issue. It was the dark windows above the sightscreen. It was really just the yorkers."

Kallis said Flintoff "bowled a fantastic spell" but he felt South Africa were still in a strong position.

"With the amount of movement there still is off the wicket it makes life tough for the batsmen. I think there is going to movement throughout the game.

"If we can get a hundred ahead hopefully our bowlers can get the ball in the right areas like Fred (Flintoff) did," said Kallis.

A total of 25 overs were lost to the weather during the day.

Flintoff earlier dismissed top-scorer Neil McKenzie for 72 to become only the second Englishman after Ian Botham to score more than 2000 runs and take 200 wickets in Tests.

At that stage South Africa were 135 for four and another wicket might have brought the game close to parity.

Kallis, who scored only 24 runs in his first three innings in the series, was the major partner as he and Prince steered South Africa into the lead. He was not entirely convincing, with two successive boundaries scored off the edge against yorker-length balls.

On 37 an attempted forcing shot off Paul Collingwood deflected onto the thigh of wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose. He made his 64 off 114 balls with nine fours.

The left-handed Prince, who made centuries in the drawn first Test at Lord's and in South Africa's ten-wicket win in Leeds, took 18 balls to score his first run but reached 37 not out by the close.


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