Short of a milestone and a costly drop
Disappointment of the Day
Despite the heightened sense of competitiveness in which this match has been played, it seemed that just about every one of the 30,000 spectators at Lord's, supporting either side, was willing Jonny Bairstow to reach his maiden Test century. Starting his innings under such pressure - as the man who replaced Kevin Pietersen, with his team teetering at 54 for 4 and his reputation against the short ball far from assured - Bairstow withstood everything that was thrown at him by an excellent South Africa fast-bowling unit and earned his side a foothold in a game that was slipping from their grasp. South Africa bowled with great skill and discipline on the third day, however, and as Bairstow's run-scoring opportunities dwindled so his nervousness in approaching three figures grew. He scored only one run in the last 40 minutes of his innings and none from his final 15 deliveries. Finally, frustrated and anxious, he attempted to play across the line and was bowled by a full delivery from the deserving Morne Morkel. Still, Bairstow had given his side hope and provided an excellent demonstration of the qualities required to prosper at this level.
Overrule of the Day
To say that umpire Kumar Dharmasena has endured a poor game would be like stating that the Titanic had run into a spot of bother with an iceberg. His latest error came when he gave Graeme Swann out leg-before for 12 off the bowling of Dale Steyn to reduce England to 264 for 8. England utilised the DRS, however, which showed that the ball would have bounced over the stumps. It may prove to be a vital moment: Swann went on to score 37 and helped England's tail add another 51 runs and carve out a small first-innings lead. In a relatively low scoring game, such contributions may yet prove vital. Dharmasena redeemed himself a little later in the day with three tough, correct, not-out lbw decisions in an over from Swann.
Drop of the Day
South Africa were 49 for 1 and Hashim Amla had scored just 1 when, in attempting to turn a short ball from Stuart Broad down to fine leg, he gloved a chance to the left of Matt Prior. England's wicketkeeper was unable to cling on, however, and Amla was able to extend South Africa's lead to 139. It may prove to be the final nail in the coffin of England's hopes of retaining their No. 1 Test status.
Ball of the Day
Vernon Philander has had little to show for his consistency over the last three matches but he made his presence felt with a delivery that summed up why he has had so much success before. South Africa took the new ball as soon as it became available and Philander benefitted both from his own skill and Prior's impatience. He bowled a full delivery, which swung away and Prior had a nibble, without giving himself any time to assess the bowling with the new nut. His thick outside edge found Jacques Kallis at second slip, who took it at a good height. The over before that Steyn had also tempted Prior with the old ball that he was able to get late movement on. All it took was a slightly shinier one and for Philander to make it move dramatically and Prior was a marked man.
Duel of the Day
With an eye to taking early wickets, Andrew Strauss brought Swann on in the tenth over. Swann flighted the ball in an attempt to draw Graeme Smith out and force him to play on his less-favoured off side. The battle that followed was enthralling. Swann beat Smith's outside edge, once so closely that Strauss thought there was a kiss of bat or glove and asked for a review as Smith pushed uncertainly in front of him. The South Africa captain seemed to have settled when he struck a square drive off a wide delivery but the very next ball, Swann won the war. Smith swept a delivery that was angled in and missed. He thought about reviewing, perhaps on the suspicion that he was outside the line but replays showed he was just inside and would have had to go anyway.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo