Tons from Stokes, Pope put England in command

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17 Jan 2020 | 07:34 AM
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Pramod Ananth

Tons from Stokes, Pope put England in command

South Africa trail by 439 runs with 8 wickets in hand

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South Africa go into stumps on Day Two of the third Test at Port Elizabeth trailing by 439 runs with eight wickets in hand, after England declared their innings at 499 for 9. However, the day belonged to Ollie Pope (135*), who notched up his maiden Test ton and Ben Stokes (120), who scored his ninth Test century. Their 203-run fifth wicket stand was crucial as England went on to get a big score on the board. 

The Proteas have Dean Elgar (32*) and night watchman Anrich Nortje (0*) at the crease and they will have their work cut out on Day Three as they look to get something out of this game. Elgar and Pieter Malan (18) put on exactly 50 for the first wicket before Dominic Bess got the better of Malan. 

Bad light stopped play just after Zubayr Hamza (10) was dismissed once again by Bess, who has picked up both the wickets to fall.

The day however did not start on a positive note. Rain ensured that play started 45 minutes late, but once it did, it was all England in the first session. Ben Stokes started accelerating from the word go and he found good support in Pope. The duo put on 164, which is the highest ever fifth wicket stand at Port Elizabeth. South Africa on their part did not bowl particularly well either. They were on the shorter side in the first session and England pounced on them. They were also a tad wide, giving the batsmen to drive them at ease. 

England added 111 in the first session without losing a wicket. Stokes scored his ninth Test ton and also went past 4000 Test runs, making him only the seventh player to reach the double of 4000 runs and 100 wickets in Tests. Along with Pope, he had also registered the highest fifth wicket stand at Port Elizabeth.

It was a flat wicket on Day Two with very little in it for the fast bowlers and Keshav Maharaj too did not find much spin, compared to the first day. Things were looking ominous for South Africa at that moment. With the series on the line, the pressure was on them to bounce back in this Test.

Although South Africa managed to pick up a couple of quick wickets in the second session of Stokes (120) and Jos Buttler (1), bringing an end to a record-breaking fifth wicket stand of 203, England still dominated the session thanks to a frustrating partnership between Sam Curran and Pope.

Pope understandably was a little circumspect in his approach but Curran was not afraid to use the long handle. He scored at a brisk rate, which relieved the pressure on Pope as he approached his maiden Test ton. Curran perished for a quickfire 44 looking to clear the deep mid-wicket fence, but Elgar made no mistake at the boundary. But, Curran had done the damage, putting on 59 in quick time with Pope for the seventh wicket.

England went into tea at 426 for 8 and had perhaps batted South Africa out of the match already.

South Africa were made to toil even after tea. No. 10 batsman Mark Wood came in to bat with a license to go berserk and that’s exactly what he did. He scored 42 (off 23 balls) out of the 73-run ninth wicket which took England to 499 for 9. With Wood’s wicket, Joe Root declared the innings. 

The only positive for South Africa is that Maharaj picked up his sixth five-wicket haul in Tests.

Brief scores:

England 499 for 9 decl. (Ollie Pope 135*, Ben Stokes 120; Keshav Maharaj 5 for 180, Kagiso Rabada 2 for 97) lead South Africa 60 for 2 (Dean Elgar 32*, Pieter Malan 18; Dominic Bess 2 for 12) by 439 runs.

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