Cricket

Steven Finn took England's only wicket on day three.

Steven Finn remains optimistic despite England's slow progress

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Steven Finn is convinced England can still manage a victory push in the second Test despite missed chances restricting their progress in Cape Town to a crawl.

The tourists toiled away for 87 overs against South Africa on day three but Finn's dismissal of AB de Villiers for 88 was all they had to show for their endeavours.

Home captain Hashim Amla lingered from first ball until last on his way to 157 not out, eking out 94 runs in six and a half hours, to lead his side to 353 for three.

England still boast a healthy first-innings advantage but much more of the same from Amla, who was dropped on 76 and 120, would make the draw a near certainty.

But Finn, who turned in the day's most consistent bowling effort by a distance, painted an optimistic picture.

"We've come in with only one wicket in the day, which is not ideal, but there are still smiles on people's faces knowing we're a long way ahead in this game," he said.

"We're still 276 runs in front. I think it's going to take a very good morning session from us to be able to put South Africa under pressure on that last day but we're not ruling it out.

"We have to keep trucking, we have to keep trying to force mistakes and play attritional cricket and I actually think we've done that really well so far.

"We're still a long way ahead of the game because we haven't let South Africa get away from us. A good session tomorrow morning and who knows what might happen."

Alternatively, England may yet come to rue those missed chances against Amla, a man who knows how to bat for a long time and has a triple century to his name against the same opponents.

South Africa dropped a couple of their own chances on day two and Finn believes the dynamics of the Newlands ground could be playing a factor.

"It's not easy to see the ball here, the ground and the crowd are very much in line so it's easy to lose it," he said.

"I think the level of the crowd and the colours in the crowd...you just lose it in there. When the ball gets a bit older and darker it just blends in with the crowd.

"No catch is an easy catch here I suppose, but tomorrow we're backing ourselves to take them."

At one stage Alastair Cook was so eager to force a breakthrough that he tossed the ball to opening batsman Alex Hales.

That surprised his childhood friend Finn as much as anyone, and he offered a blunt assessment of the surprise three-over spell.

"Me and Alex actually opened the bowling for Hertfordshire Under-12s together and that was the last time I saw him bowl," he said.

"They were filthy seamers then and now they're filthy off-spinners.

"Watching Alex bowl is not something I'd want to do again but if he'd have got that breakthrough it would have been fantastic."

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