JOHANNESBURG, (Reuters) – Joe Root and Ben Stokes shared a rapid unbeaten partnership of 71 to put the brakes on a hostile South African attack and lift England to 162 for four at tea on the second day of the third test on Friday.
Replying to South Africa’s first-innings total of 313, Root scored the first half century of the match and was unbeaten on 60 with Stokes on 38 at the interval.
Hardus Viljoen took the wicket of England captain Alastair Cook with his first ball in test cricket and there were wickets for Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel as South Africa unleashed a barrage of pace to put England in trouble at 91 for four.
But Root and Stokes, two of England’s most exciting young players, lifted the stranglehold as the touring side, 1-0 up in the series, plundered 135 runs in the afternoon session.
Earlier, Alex Hales, who has been struggling with a stomach virus, went for one when he edged Rabada to AB de Villiers at second slip and Cook’s poor form continued after edging Viljoen’s first ball down the leg side to be caught by wicketkeeper Dane Vilas for 18.
Nick Compton was caught in the slips by Dean Elgar off Rabada for 26 just after he and Root had put together a 50-run partnership for the third wicket.
James Taylor departed for seven, caught at short leg by Temba Bavuma off Morkel for seven.
South Africa had resumed on 267 for seven overnight and England removed Chris Morris and Rabada for the addition of only 14 runs, both caught by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow off Stuart Broad and James Anderson, who claimed his first wicket after toiling for 22 overs without success.
But debutant Viljoen, who hit a boundary from the first ball he faced as a test batsman, and Morkel frustrated the bowlers by adding 32 runs in six overs for the last wicket.
Bairstow dropped an easy catch off Anderson which denied him a chance to equal the world record of seven dismissals in an innings.
Anderson’s follow-through after the delivery led him to encroach on the wicket and having been warned twice for running on the pitch, he was removed from the England attack by umpire Aleem Dar after an acrimonious exchange between the pair.
He had bowled just two balls of his over and Stokes was brought on to complete it, finishing off the innings with his first ball when Morkel edged to Cook at first slip to give the all-rounder his 50th test wicket.
South Africa’s total was the lowest for a test innings in which all the batsmen reached double figures.
(By Mark Gleeson, Editing by Ed Osmond; firstname.lastname@example.org; +27828257807; Reuters Messaging: Reuters Messaging: email@example.com)