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Cook delighted for Tail-enders

England's 'buddy' system continues to pay dividends with crucial runs from their lower order.

Yesterday Matt Prior (52 not out) helped eke out a valuable partnership with Stuart Broad -- after all of England's specialist batsmen were out -- on the way to a total of 241-7, in reply to South Africa's 291 all out.

They therefore knew they were still in the game today, on the third morning of the third Test at Newlands, and Alastair Cook credits their mentoring policy not only with the latest success but also key contributions to last summer's Ashes victory.

Cook himself made 65, but the 51 put on by Prior and Broad (bowled by Dale Steyn for 25) may prove telling.

"Lower-order runs helped us in the summer against Australia. It helps any team if you can do that," said Cook.

"The lads down there made a massive play of our buddy system. We are working hard at the top order helping them out with their batting.

"It has paid dividends and probably really helped us win the Ashes."

Prior needs no buddy, because the wicketkeeper has the talents of many a specialist international batsman.

"He's come in and played really well," said Cook. "He's aggressive by nature, and the partnerships with Belly (Ian Bell) and Broady (Broad) were crucial."

Jacques Kallis nonetheless contends he and his South Africa team-mates may still be slightly ahead in the game, in a Test which appears destined to end in a positive result for one team.

"It will be tough to chase down 300-plus on that wicket," Kallis said, already looking forward to setting England a last-innings target.

"That will be our aim. It will be tough and hard work to get there, but the guys are up for the fight. We need to win this to get back in the series.

"It's a very different wicket to normal at Newlands -- perhaps a little more uneven than what we are used to, and perhaps it's done a little more than in the past. But it certainly makes for exciting cricket."

South Africa must take their chance here, trailing 1-0 with just this and one more match to play in the series.

But Kallis is already encouraged by their improvement since an innings defeat in Durban last week.

"We had a sit down and a chat to see what we were doing and what we were doing wrong," he said.

"The bowlers came out and really showed what they can do and what they have been doing in the past year or two, rather than the last Test.

"The guys have stepped up and delivered the goods."

Meanwhile, opener Shane Watson was dismissed for 97 as Australia took an 80-run lead in the second Test against Pakistan in Sydney.

Watson fell after gloving a ball from Umar Gul (3-62) to Faisal Iqbal at second slip after he was cruising to a second consecutive Test century.

It was the third time in his career Watson had been out in the 90s but, unlike his previous dismissals, he could do little to avoid his latest disappointment.

Just after tea on day three, Australia were 286-8 after starting their second innings 206 runs behind.

Michael Hussey (73) and Michael Clarke (21) made telling contributions for the baggy greens, while Danish Kaneria (4-117) claimed their middle order of Marcus North (2), Brad Haddin (15) and Mitchell Johnson (3).


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