Claiming Ben Stokes’ wicket will be top of the list of priorities for South Africa as they look to make an impact on day two of the third Test against England at St George’s Park on Friday.
It was a slow day of Test cricket for most of the opening day as England battled their way to 224 for the loss of four wickets.
That effort‚ at a run-rate of 2.5 per over‚ came on a surface where runs proved a scarce commodity.
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The predicted Easterly breeze‚ the one that locals will tell you brings the wickets‚ failed to pitch on Thursday and that made it hard for both batsman and bowlers to garner success.
Stokes scores on first day:
Ollie Pope (39) and Stokes (38) survived the new ball to end as the not out batsmen overnight.
Faf du Plessis’ South Africans will know that nipping out Stokes as early as possible will be of key importance lest they run the risk of him taking head coach Mark Boucher’s “wounded buffalo” by the horns.
That lack of wicket-taking opportunities during the opening session required some innovation and Plessis came up with a plan.
The first two wickets fell to an unconventional field placing. Short backward square-leg‚ or leg gully if you will‚ is not a position every captain looks to employ.
But Du Plessis identified an opportunity and his quicks Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje targeted back-of-length in the direction of the thigh pad and it worked on both occasions.
After lunch Stats:
First‚ and just after lunch‚, Dom Sibley turned a delivery from Rabada to Dean Elgar‚ who snaffled a good catch. Sibley made 36 and contributed to a 70-run stand for the first wicket with Zak Crawley.
Next man down Crawley was a near carbon copy dismissal to Sibley’s but this time it was off Nortje with Rassie van der Dussen‚ in almost the same position‚ taking a blinding catch diving low to his right.
Crawley was skillful for his 44 that came off 137 deliveries and included nine fours.
England took the tea break on 117 for two off 58 overs with Joe Denly and Joe Root looking to continue the patience game.
However, it was the case of them both getting in and then getting out.
South Africa Bowling:
Denly’s (25)‚ was a strange dismissal in that only wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock appealed for leg-before decision off Keshav Maharaj.
The appeal was turned down but De Kock convinced his skipper to review. Television revealed the ball had kissed the pad before hitting the middle of Denly’s bat and the decision was overturned.
He ended the day with figures of one for 55 in 32 overs and is likely to bowl considerably more on Friday.
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