Matt Prior insists England have not given up hope of winning the second Investec Test after rain and South Africa’s openers repelled their push for victory on the penultimate day.
Kevin Pietersen failed to add to his Saturday score of 149, an innings that single-handedly turned this match on its head, but Matt Prior’s counter-attacking 68 helped the hosts to 425 all out - a lead of just six.
And hopes were high that England could force the initiative as Alviro Petersen, who struck 182 for the Proteas, would only bat if needed due to a hamstring strain, while fellow opener Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis were carrying knee and back injuries respectively.
However, Smith, with strapping on his sore left knee, and makeshift opener Jacques Rudolph carried South Africa to 39 without loss from 17 overs before rain brought about an early finish at Headingley.
Prior said: “We know that if we come in hard and put them under pressure you never know what can happen. If we get a few early wickets we’ve got an opportunity to push hard and win.
“It’s a bit disappointing to not get a bit more of a lead but having said that, to get just ahead was good.”
Prior hailed Pietersen’s impressive knock, claiming the pressure is now on South Africa, who are ahead 1-0 in the series after flattening Andrew Strauss’ side by an innings and 12 runs in the opening Test.
“We were unlucky not to get a few nicks or a few wickets early on,” he added.