South Africa in driver’s seat after England collapse

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27 Dec 2019 | 03:44 PM
authorPramod Ananth

South Africa in driver’s seat after England collapse

England lost their last seven wickets for just 39 runs

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After initially taking a 103-run lead, South Africa have further consolidated it to 175 at stumps on Day Two of the first Test against England, but it has come at the cost of four wickets. It was England who initially collapsed after being in a good position, but then the Proteas too fell prey to some excellent bowling from England, who perhaps feel they have an outside chance to go on and win this game.

Aiden Markram's poor run continued as he was struck in front off James Anderson for two. Dean Elgar (22), Zubayr Hamza (4) and Faf du Plessis (20) too perished soon, but Rassie Van der Dussen stuck it out till the end to remain unbeaten on 17 along with nightwatchman Anrich Nortje (4*).

England were in deep trouble after they were two-down for 15 at the beginning of the second day’s play after bowling South Africa out for 284, with the last pair lasting about two overs. The opening spell from Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander put England on the backfoot straightaway and needed their skipper Joe Root and Joe Denly to dig them out of this precarious position. Denly was given an early life when he was dropped by Van der Dussen. 

England went into lunch unscathed after that. Denly and Root were in the middle of a good partnership and would have loved to continue from where they left off in the second session. Their 55-run stand was England’s second fifty partnership at the venue for the third wicket. However, it was Philander who was once again in the thick of things, getting the England captain caught behind for 29. However, Denly was well set and played a fighting innings, bringing up his sixth Test fifty along the way. After being dropped on 0, Denly made it count and has helped close in on South Africa’s total.

Ben Stokes, who did not bowl played patently but was severe on the Proteas’ only spinner Keshav Maharaj, who he smacked for a couple of sixes, in the process bringing up another half-century stand with Denly off just 64 deliveries. 

Denly became Dwaine Pretorius’ first Test victim as Quinton de Kock took his fourth catch of the innings. Jonny Bairstow’s stay at the crease too did not last long as Anrich Nortje breached his defense for just one to continue his poor run of form this year in which he averages just 19.11 from 18 innings. 

England lost two quick wickets and the onus from there was on Stokes and Jos Buttler to take England get England to a position from where they can think about taking a lead. Luckily for the visitors, Stokes was well set and was striking the ball well. He too could not last long, edging one to de Kock, who now had scalped five catches. 

From 142 for 3, England were in a spot of bother at 150 for 6 and then were eventually bowled out for 181, conceding a lead of 108 as a result. They lost seven wickets for just 39 runs to capitulate to a below par score. 

De Kock had notched by six catches in the innings, becoming the fourth South African wicketkeeper to do so. Philander was easily the pick of the bowlers, finishing with 4 for 16, while Rabada finished with three scalps. 

Brief scores:

South Africa 284 (Quinton de Kock 95, Zubayr Hamza 39; Sam Curran 4 for 58, Stuart Broad 4 for 58) & 72 for 4 (Dean Elgar 22, Faf du Plessis 20; Jofra Archer 2 for 37, Stuart Broad 1 for 6) lead England 181 (Joe Denly 50, Ben Stokes 35; Vernon Philander 4 for 16, Kagiso Rabada 3 for 68) by 175 runs

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