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Ben Stokes pushes England along after Alastair Cook dismissal

Stokes cashed in on his previous hard work to speed past his half-century from 72 balls.

Ben Stokes took over from Alastair Cook as England accelerated their progress on the second morning of the third Investec Test against South Africa.

Stokes (64no) cashed in on his previous hard work to speed past his half-century, from 72 balls in all, as he and Jonny Bairstow (36) shared a stand of 75 on the way to a lunchtime 269 for six at The Oval.

Cook (88) had underpinned England’s hard-earned 171 for four at stumps on Thursday evening but was able to add only six to his overnight score before falling to the 200th delivery he faced.

He was dismissed by Morne Morkel, for the 10th time in his career, lbw from round the wicket after the opener went to DRS, only to discover the umpire’s initial decision was marginally confirmed.

Vernon Philander managed only five overs from the Vauxhall end before his tummy troubles resurfaced and forced him off the field, and Stokes and Bairstow sensed an opportunity to attack Chris Morris and Keshav Maharaj.

The former over-pitched as both batsmen took advantage, and Bairstow swept two fours and straight-drove another in the slow left-armer’s first over.

England's Ben Stokes celebrates making 50 runs at the Oval (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

There were five Bairstow boundaries in 10 balls at one point and 46 runs came in six overs.

Conditions still appeared to be in the bowlers’ favour on a second successive cloudy morning, but England’s sixth-wicket pair were having none of that and continued apace.

It was not until South Africa took the second new ball that there was instantly a resurgent threat, and it proved too much for Bairstow as Kagiso Rabada found extra bounce to have him edging to second slip.

Stokes had to be much more watchful too, and when new batsman Moeen Ali edged an involuntary four off Rabada just before lunch it was the first boundary in 10 overs.

England were nonetheless beginning to approach a par score.


From Belfast Telegraph