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England in firm control of First Test against South Africa

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Temba Bavuma and Theunis de Bruyn, two of the least experienced men in the Standard Bank Proteas top order produced a fightback of skill and good temperament to revive their side from a potential collapse on the second day of the first Test match against England at Lord’s in London on Friday.

Their stand of 99 for the fifth wicket which was broken 10 minutes before stumps when De Bruyn was dismissed by Jimmy Anderson mirrored the similar stand of 114 for the same wicket between Joe Root and Ben Stokes to launch a similar England revival the previous day.

With Bavuma unbeaten on 48 (102 balls, 8 fours) accompanied by night watchman Kagiso Rabada with Quinton de Kock still to bat, the Proteas finished the day on 214/5, still trailing by 244 runs but it was nevertheless a lot better than they 104/4 in the 37th over shortly into the final session of play.

The first task is obviously to avoid the follow on although it is unlikely that Root will explore that option with the pitch already providing substantial assistance to the spinners from the second day and the odd delivery keeping low as well, although admittedly large from the bowler’s rough outside thee line of the stumps. England are highly unlikely to want to bat last in this match.

Bavuma again proved himself the man for the crisis which has been the hallmark of his entire career.

Earlier the Proteas dismissed England for 458 with all the wickets being shared by the three fronline seamers and De Kock taking four catches.

The Proteas got the second day off to the start they needed when Morkel claimed two wickets in three balls in the fourth over of the morning including the key one of Root for 190 (234 balls, 27 fours and a six). It also put an end to the sixth wicket partnership of 177 with Moeen.

Unfortunately, they then made a critical error of judgment when they did not use one of their two available referrals when Philander had an lbw appeal against Broad turned down. The TV replays gave it three red lights and the reprieved Broad, on 4 at the time, went on to become the fourth batsman in the innings to reach 50 as he rode his luck in a spirited performance.

Morkel and Philander both bowled in the opening 10 overs of the day but it was Rabada who signalled that the end of the innings was in sight when he also claimed two wickets in three balls, one of them being Moeen for 87 (147 balls, 8 fours and a six).

England went on to add 101 to their overnight total inside 19 overs and Broad’s innings (57 not out off 47 balls, 8 fours and 2 sixes) enabled England to post a challenging total of 458 instead of getting them out for below 400.

Elgar and Kuhn got through a testing 4 overs before lunch but the good start the Proteas wanted was not forthcoming when Broad struck in his first over after lunch when he dismissed the debutant with a good delivery that held its line down the slope to find the outside edge.

Elgar and Amla then started building a solid foundation with their second-wicket stand of 72 before the latter misjudged the turn down the slope from Moeen to be trapped leg before wicket. Nevertheless, the Proteas made 86/2 in the session which gave them at least a half share of it, Elgar having reached his seventh career half-century (90 balls, 8 fours).

England appeared to have taken decisive control shortly after tea when Broad and Moeen got rid of Elgar and Duminy in quick succession. Moeen’s dismissal of Elgar was his 100th Test wicket to complete a notable double after he scored his 2 000th run earlier in the match.

However, De Bruyn and Bavuma got the Proteas innings back on to something approaching an even keel with a 99-run partnership that mirrored the similar job Root and Stokes had done for England the previous day.

De Bruyn (48 off 85 balls, 6 fours) fell to Anderson just before the close with the Proteas still trailing by more than 150 runs.