Petersen shines for Proteas

  • Last Updated: August 2 2012, 20:09 BST

England's bowlers managed only stuttering progress as Alviro Petersen shut them out on day one of the second Investec Test at Headingley.

Petersen: Unbeaten 124 for South Africa

Five wickets in a stumps total of 262 amounted to far better than they mustered against South Africa in the entirety of the innings defeat at The Oval.

But after winning the toss, and under cloud cover either side of teatime rain, England could have done with plenty more as they seek to remain competitive in this three-match series.

It was thanks principally to Petersen (124no), who followed a fluent first 50 with a stoic second, that the hosts could not make more telling gains.

They endured an ominously and controversially wicketless first session, then struck three times in the afternoon - once with a run-out - but could not consolidate as the clouds dispersed again.

When Tim Bresnan had Graeme Smith (52) caught at square-leg in early afternoon, he was delivering England's first wicket since he himself last got rid of the opposition captain 10 hours previously - in playing time - dating back to day three in London.

Both James Anderson, after Alastair Cook's dropped slip catch, and then - in bizarre circumstances - Steven Finn came frustratingly close to removing a South Africa opener before lunch.

Cook put Petersen down on 29; then first-change Finn thought he had Smith neatly caught at first slip by Andrew Strauss for six, only for umpire Steve Davis to call dead-ball after the fast bowler repeated his uncanny habit of disturbing the bails at the non-striker's end in his delivery stride.

It was a moot point - a fact later noted in an MCC press release on the matter - as to whether the flying bails 22 yards away distracted Smith.

Davis had given Finn leeway three times previously when his knee hit the non-striker's stumps in his first over. But once the Australian umpire took action for the first time, he ensured consistency by calling dead-ball twice more when the bowler reproduced his unenviable party trick.

England's wicketless wait extended to 497 runs, and 138 overs, between Smith's dismissals to Bresnan.

The left-hander and Petersen, who made a duck out of 637 for two declared at The Oval, had little initial trouble against England's all-pace attack on a sunny morning.

The hosts were all chips in for their gamble on early wickets with seam or swing, at this venue renowned for often favouring both, having left out off-spinner Graeme Swann for the first time in three-and-a-half years.

The signs were soon far from encouraging, though, for a team clinging to their world number one Test status and needing to at least avoid defeat here to stop South Africa knocking them off their perch.

Anderson should have had Petersen, reprieved by Cook when he missed a straightforward chance at Swann's accustomed second-slip position.

But worse was to follow for England because Finn, returning here in place of Swann, paid dearly for his stump-kicking idiosyncrasy and gave Smith a second chance.

Petersen was past his 50 before lunch, with a pull at Bresnan for his seventh four, and Smith reached his from 91 deliveries in early afternoon.

But he was to succumb at last to England's packed leg-side field, and only three overs later the hosts picked up the big bonus of Hashim Amla's wicket too.

A misfield by Jonathan Trott at cover, misunderstanding between Amla and Petersen - and Bresnan's fine throw from the extra-cover boundary - did for The Oval triple-centurion before he could even make double-figures this time.

When Cook redeemed himself with a smart catch low to his left, at second slip again, after Jacques Kallis toe-ended an attempted cut at Anderson, South Africa had faltered from 120 for none to 157 for three.

Rain brought an early tea, though, and when play resumed an hour and a half later Petersen was still not for shifting - and AB de Villiers was watchful too in an important stand of 97.

Petersen did not always use the middle of his bat, but dug out his fourth Test century - completed off 215 balls when he clipped Stuart Broad for his 11th four.

He was then to have an lbw decision overturned on DRS on 119 off Finn.

Even De Villiers' chop-on to Broad with the second new ball, and nightwatchman Dale Steyn's clean-bowled duck to Finn, therefore could not alter the complexion of another day when world cricket's balance of power tilted towards South Africa.