South Africa turn the screw as England struggle at Centurion
The hosts finished their innings with 284 runs.
South Africa’s seamers turned the screw on England as the tourists tumbled to 157 for six on the second afternoon of the Boxing Day Test in Centurion.
After bowling the hosts out for 284 in the third over of the day, Stuart Broad taking care of Vernon Philander for his fourth of the innings, England’s batsmen soon abandoned their hopes of a long and profitable outing at the crease.
Both openers were ruthlessly despatched with the new ball, which Kagiso Rabada and Philander utilised outstandingly, and there could easily have been an early collapse such was the quality of bowling.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) December 27, 2019
Instead Joe Denly, benefiting from Rassie van der Dussen’s dropped catch at slip while still on nought, played his part in nerve-settling stands of 55 with Joe Root and 72 alongside Ben Stokes.
Root, having batted through a fiery Rabada spell that saw him clattered on the wrist and the helmet, was furious to give it away on 29. Advancing towards Philander to try and break the shackles of his exemplary line and length, he only succeeding in feeding wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock one of five catches.
Philander, who has already announced his retirement at the end of the series and is expected to confirm a Kolpak deal with Somerset, turned in incredible figures of two for five from 10 overs.
Stokes, who has been dealing with the strain of his father’s serious illness as well as a bout of dehydration on day one, arrived in the middle at 70 for three and batted with his customary defiance as he and Denly more than doubled the team’s total.
Things had just started to settle down, with Rabada’s economy rate beginning to tell a rather unkind story and Stokes settling into his repertoire with successive slog-sweeps for six off Keshav Maharaj, a punched on-drive and an uppercut for four.
That is when South Africa reclaimed control, with three wickets for eight runs in the space 17 balls.
Denly had just raised his bat in acknowledgement of a hard-fought 50 when Dwaine Pretorius jagged one back in sharply and kissed the inside edge, a fine way for the debutant to take his maiden Test wicket.
Anrich Nortje then got his rewards for an accurate and rapid spell, clean bowling Jonny Bairstow for one on his return to side and drawing Stokes into a loose drive outside his off stump. Instead of releasing the pressure with the handsome boundary he envisaged, the all-rounder’s exit gave a huge boost to the home side.