South Africa's Alviro Petersen celebrates reaching his century as teammate AB de Villiers (left) looks on.

There was relief for Alviro Petersen on the first day of the second Test against England on Thursday as he scored his fourth Test century to help put South Africa’s noses in front.

Following on from a duck in the first Test, when the remaining SA batsmen all made hundreds, Petersen said he was happy to play a part on the first day. “It’s just nice to have contributed,” Petersen told the BBC’s Test Match Special, about his unbeaten 124, which took up all 384 minutes of the first day, lasted 266 balls and included 16 fours.

He had moments of good fortune too, surviving a dropped catch by Alastair Cook in the 12th over when he had 29 and then claiming a successful review after umpire Steve Davis had given him out lbw in the penultimate over on Thursday evening.

“I was happy to make it count at the end, because it was really difficult out there for most of the day.

“When it clouded over the ball really started swinging and seaming around and after the rain break the pitch quickened. The bounce off the surface was also up and down and that could make things really interesting later on (in the Test).

Petersen shared partnerships of 120 for the opening wicket with Graeme Smith and 97 for the fourth wicket with AB de Villiers as South Africa ended the day on 262/5. Two wickets late in the day with the second new ball, probably evened out proceedings, but Petersen was relatively pleased with the touring team’s efforts.

“From a batting point of view the team did very well. If we can get close to 400 then we will be in a strong position.”

As for the controversy early in the day Thursday, when umpire Davis called ‘dead ball’ after Smith had edged Steven Finn to Andrew Strauss after the bowler had hit the stumps at the non-striker’s end with his knee, Petersen felt the umpire was in the right.

“It’s hard work out there and when you’re going for your shot and the bails keep falling off at the other end, you’re not sure whether to play or leave, it really upsets your rhythm.”

Finn had knocked the stumps three times before he found the edge of Smith’s bat and the South African captain had a chat with Davis.

“It’s the same as if there’s a problem with the sight-screen, we stop play. It was distracting us and fair play to Davis he called ‘dead ball and then stuck with his decision.”

Petersen and Jacques Rudolph resumed in bright sunshine on Friday morning. Rain has been forecast for the area in the afternoon. – IOL