Jonathan Bairstow fell just short of a maiden Test hundred as England reached 8-277, a deficit of 32 runs, at lunch on the third day of the third Test against South Africa at Lord’s on Saturday.
Bairstow had to be content with a Test-best 95, having arrived at the crease on Friday when England were in dire straits at 4-54 – just as South Africa had been – in reply to the tourists’ 309.
There was even more pressure on the 22-year-old Bairstow’s shoulders as he’d been brought in to replace Kevin Pietersen, dropped despite scoring a superb 149 in the drawn second Test at Headingley, for a match South Africa only need to draw to replace England as the world’s top-ranked Test side.
Bairstow only made his Test debut in May, against the West Indies at Lord’s, but was dropped after his first three matches at this level yielded a mere 38 runs in total.
But he resumed Saturday on 72 not out in a total of 5-208.
Wicketkeeper Matt Prior (27) fell to the first delivery of the new ball, edging a Vernon Philander (2-39) outswinger to second slip Jacques Kallis.
Stuart Broad (16) gave a dolly catch to Hashim Amla at short leg as he tried to turn Steyn off his pads.
Bairstow spent 15 runless balls, all against Morne Morkel on 95 as the fast bowler tied him down.
And tall paceman Morkel (3-79) was rewarded when he bowled Bairstow, aiming across the line, to end an innings of more than five hours duration featuring 13 fours, with the batsman walking off to a standing ovation from a capacity crowd.
Graeme Swann is 14 not out and James Anderson nine not out at the break.