Updated: 18/08/2012 16:07 | By pa.press.net

England finish with small lead



Graeme Swann's unbeaten 37 helped England secure a small first-innings lead at Lord's

Graeme Swann's unbeaten 37 helped England secure a small first-innings lead at Lord's

England recovered from Jonny Bairstow's near miss, just short of his maiden Test century, to post a marginal first-innings lead in their must-win Lord's battle against South Africa.

Bairstow fell for 95 just before lunch on day three but Graeme Swann still eked out enough runs with the tail - including 32 for the last wicket with Steven Finn - to poke England's noses six in front, as they were bowled out for 315.

By tea, South Africa had responded with a cautious 33 without loss in 15 overs.

Bairstow, playing in this match after England dropped Kevin Pietersen in controversial circumstances, dug the hosts out of trouble yesterday. But he got stuck in the 90s and was bowled playing across the line at Morne Morkel (four for 80).

Only victory will do in this final Investec Test if England are to share the series and stop South Africa taking away their world number one status.

Bairstow and sixth-wicket partner Matt Prior saw England through the first eight overs, to the second new ball - but no further.

Prior edged a drive to slip, off Vernon Philander's very first delivery after the new ball was taken.

Philander continued to find exaggerated swing against Stuart Broad, but both the new batsman and Bairstow found their scoring opportunities to take England ever closer to South Africa's total - until the left-hander fended a ball from Dale Steyn (four for 94) straight to short-leg.

With Bairstow gone, his 196-ball stay including 15 deliveries on 95, it seemed first-innings parity would be beyond England.

But Swann had other ideas, and received enough support from numbers 10 and 11 James Anderson and Finn to put the hosts in minor credit.

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