PRETORIA (Reuters) - England face a tough task to save the fourth test against South Africa but history shows that the tourists are capable of frustrating their opponents, fast bowler James Anderson said on Monday.
Set an unlikely victory target of 382, the touring side slumped to 18 for three before limping to 52-3 at the close on day four of the final test.
England, who have already won the series with an unbeatable 2-0 lead, must now bat out the final day on a wearing wicket if they are to prevent the hosts from ending their nine-test winless streak which stretches back to more than a year.
Only eight times in test history has a side been three down going into the final day and managed to save the test.
One of those occasions was in Cape Town in 2010 when England entered the fifth morning on 132 for three and memorably batted out the 90 overs to be nine down at the close.
Anderson, in as a nightwatchman, hung around for over an hour to play his part in saving that game.
“We’ve got positive players in our dressing room who know they can bat a whole day in a test match,” Anderson told reporters.
“The last time I played here (in South Africa) I think it was Graham Onions and Paul Collingwood that saw us through so there is always that hope if we can get a few people in.
“Losing three wickets is not ideal but we have been in this position before. It’s going to be really difficult but we will give it a go.
“Having won the series we don’t want to go out on a damp note. If Joe Root and James Taylor can continue their partnership then hopefully the ball will get a bit softer and the pitch should do a bit less.”
Anderson gave England the perfect start to day four when he bagged the wickets of Stephen Cook and AB de Villiers with arguably his best spell of the series, but the visitors could not sustain the pressure.
“This morning we thought we had a chance in the game if we got some early wickets, which we did, but we couldn’t quite capitalise on that and leave ourselves with 250 or 300 to chase down,” he added.
“I’ve felt like I bowled pretty well through the series and not got the wickets I would have liked. It’s been disappointing for me but it’s not like I feel as though I’ve bowled badly.”
Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar