By Mark Gleeson
PRETORIA, (Reuters) – England lost opener Alex Hales cheaply and were 29 for one at tea after bowling South Africa out for 475 on the second day of the final test at Centurion Park on Saturday.
Captain Alastair Cook (14) and Nick Compton (0) were not out after Hales continued his unconvincing form, falling for 15 when he was caught at point by Dane Piedt off Kagiso Rabada in the fifth over.
England were still 446 runs behind after Quinton de Kock finished 129 not out to become the third South African centurion of the innings and moving rapidly on from 85 at lunch. He brought up his maiden test century from 104 balls in an aggressive innings before running out of partners.
A stand of 50 for the eighth wicket with Kyle Abbott and 82 for the ninth with Piedt kept England in the field a lot longer than they had planned.
Frustration for the tourists, already 2-0 up in the series, was exacerbated by dropped catches, including two off De Kock. De Kock’s century followed tons on the first day for Hashim Amla and debutant Stephen Cook, offering South Africa hope of a first test win in more than 12 months and some consolation after losing the series.
England had looked likely to wrap up the South African innings swiftly when they took two wickets in the first four overs under sunny skies. Temba Bavuma added only three to his overnight 32 before getting a faint edge to a leg cutter from Stuart Broad and Rabada was out first ball, trapped lbw to give James Anderson his only wicket of the innings.
Abbott fell lbw to Ben Stokes for 16 and Piedt played a dogged innings of 19 off 104 balls in supporting De Kock before Stokes’ snagged him too. The England all-rounder finished with figures of 4-86 when he trapped Morne Morkel lbw.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)