Petersen century ensures Proteas edge

Out for a duck in the series opener, Alviro Petersen redeemed himself with a fine 124 not out as South Africa climbed to 262 for five on day one of the second Test against England at Headingley on Thursday.

Out for a duck in the series opener, Alviro Petersen redeemed himself with a fine century as South Africa climbed to 262 for five on day one of the second Test.

Mercilessly resigned to an innings and 12-run defeat at The Oval, England put in a decidedly better performance on Thursday.

The number one-ranked Test side, however, would have wanted better, particularly after winning the toss and deciding to bowl first under cloudy skies at Headingley.

Graeme Smith and Petersen were successful in weathering a testing first hour of play, which brought plenty of swing, and were largely aided by Alastair Cook's inadequacy in the slip cordon and umpire Steve Davis' controversial dead ball ruling.

Smith was afforded an early lifeline in the 12th over of the day, when Davis deemed a delivery null and void after Steven Finn had the left-hander caught in the slips. The seamer, warned earlier for accidentally toppling the bails at the non-striker's end with his front leg mid-delivery stride, made the same mistake – and duly paid the price.

The MCC – the game's lawmakers – later issued a statement backing Davis' decision, subjectively insisting Finn had been afforded enough time to rectify the line of his rogue leading leg.

The Proteas captain was eventually out for 52 as Tim Bresnan struck with the first ball of his new spell. Petersen and Amla then endured some atrocious communication amid a misfield, resulting in the run-out of the latter for just nine.

Kallis became the third victim in a mini collapse that saw the visitors fall from 120 without loss to 163 for three when a lavish cut shot only succeeded in fetching a thick edge, which Cook clung onto in the slip cordon to give James Anderson his one and only wicket. Having shelled a straightforward chance offered by Petersen earlier in the day, the fielder duly redeemed himself.

The right-handed Petersen made the most of his chance, climbing to an unbeaten 124 not out by the close of play. AB de Villiers, alongside the centurion for the bulk of the third session, prolonged by more than 80 minutes of rain, fell late in the day.

On the brink of securing utter dominance for the Proteas, de Villiers – and nightwatchman Dale Steyn – failed to complete the job by perishing to the new ball.

De Villiers' otherwise fluid 47 was lined with sound cover drives and fond handling of the short ball. Stuart Broad's final spell, though, troubled the right-hander entirely. Late in leaving the ball and iffy as to the whereabouts of his stance in relation to the off-stump, the batsman was consistently caught in two minds about his shot selection. The eventual result was a thick inside edge onto his stumps, and the end of a 97-run stand with Petersen.

Steyn didn't last long, castled by Finn, who this time was sure to avoid the non-striker's stumps in delivering a veritable peach on a near perfect length.

The right-handed Petersen meanwhile, with 16 boundaries and the fifth Test century of his career banked, knew all too well his job was not finished. The opener dutifully handled the closing throes of the day with cool, calm, collection. Come Friday, he will chase an inning akin to the stature of Kallis', or even Amla's 10 days ago.

England will be eager to make the pitch, which proved full of life initially, later momentarily dormant, then awake again and later, ultimately work for them. It's seesaw nature, coupled with the prediction of more heavy overhead conditions, should have their goals set at bowling out the opposition for less than 350.