CAPE TOWN, Jan 6: England were given a scare when they lost six wickets before tea on the fifth and final day of the second Test against South Africa at Newlands on Wednesday.
England were 155 for six at tea, a lead of 157, with a potential 37 overs remaining in the match.
The flurry of wickets was in complete contrast to the first four days when both teams scored more than 600 runs in their first innings and 1272 runs were scored for the loss of only 13 wickets.
After four days of unrelenting sunshine, the sky was partly overcast on Wednesday.
The fast bowlers, led by Morne Morkel, gained some movement, while off-spinner Dane Piedt obtained some turn from a pitch which had previously offered no assistance to the bowlers.
Piedt was the most successful bowler, taking three for 38.
Alastair Cook and Alex Hales fell within the first three overs of the day, both without adding to their overnight scores of eight and five respectively, while Joe Root was bowled just before the mid-morning drinks break. Nick Compton fell shortly before lunch.
Cook was caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock off Kagiso Rabada and Hales fell to an outstanding catch by Chris Morris at third slip, diving low to his right, off Morne Morkel.
Root made 29 off 29 balls before he was bowled by Morris�s first ball of the innings, a full delivery which swung late to take out his off stump.
Root had an escape on 17 when he edged a catch to AB de Villiers at second slip off Morkel, only for a television review to show it was a no-ball.
Compton dug in and played a solid defensive innings in making 15 off 60 balls. It came as a surprise when he went on the drive against a full delivery from off-spinner Dane Piedt and hit a catch to Faf du Plessis at a short mid-on position.
England seemed to be heading to safety after lunch as Taylor and Stokes added 30 for the fifth wicket, with Stokes following up his first innings of 258 with some more solidly- hit strokes. But he went for a big hit against Piedt and was caught by Morkel on the midwicket boundary for 26.
Taylor followed in Piedt�s next over, gloving a catch to Temba Bavuma at short leg after making 27. At 116 for six, less than midway through the day, England were in trouble.
Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali calmed English nerves by batting through to tea, making a draw virtually certain.
SCORECARD (at tea)
England, first innings, 629-6 dec
South Africa, first innings, 627-7 dec
England, second innings (overnight 16-0): A Cook c De Kock b Rabada 8, A Hales c Morris b Morkel 5, N Compton c Du Plessis b Piedt 15, J Root b Morris 29, J Taylor c Bavuma b Piedt 27, B Stokes c Morkel b Piedt 26, J Bairstow not out 26, M Ali not out 10. Extras: (lb4, nb5) 9. Total: (6 wkts, 59 overs) 155. Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-19, 3-55, 4-85, 5-115, 6-116. Bowling: Morkel 16-7-26-1, Rabada 13-2-57-1, Morris 12-4-24-1, Piedt 15-5-38-3, Elgar 3-1-6-0. � AFP