Vernon Philander needs to lead the tail as the Proteas aim for a 350-plus score on day two.
The Proteas will need Philander to venture into territory he has never explored before, as he aims to add to his unbeaten 54 on day two and strike his first Test century.
The all-rounder was crucial in towing his side past the 300-mark on day one, but he needs support from Chris Morris or his tail, so he can push on and help the Proteas add another 50-plus runs to their overnight score.
England won’t make it easy, however, as they aim to wipe out SA early.
Day one was epitomised by lukewarm performances from the Proteas batsmen.
A mishap performance from Dean Elger at the top of the order was just a reboot of the same old story about the Proteas’ opening partnership conundrum. His partner Heino Kuhn battled through tough conditions, which included a short rain interference.
Hashim Amla’s milestone of becoming the fourth South African to reach 8 000 Test runs was the only positive achievement of the first session, as the Proteas went to lunch at 56-1.
Despite Kuhn (34) returning to the dressing room shortly after lunch, the Proteas decision to move Quinton de Kock to No 4 paid off somewhat.
His partnership with Amla was vital to keeping the Proteas’ first innings together and the pair survived until tea to guide the visitors to 179-2.
Things unravelled quickly in the third session when the Proteas suddenly found themselves on 194-4, as Amla (78) and De Kock (68) failed to reach much-needed centuries.
A middle-order collapse followed – Faf du Plessis lost his wicket cheaply through an ultra-edge feathered glove dismissal, and Temba Bavuma tried to leave a delivery, but could not get his bat away in time as the ball found the edge on his bat’s way up.
Chris Morris and Philander revitalised the Proteas’ final session with a crucial 74-run partnership, and the seventh-wicket pair need to push on and help the Proteas post a minimum target score of 350 within the first session.
Duanne Olivier will face the difficult task of filling in for Kagiso Rabada, but his debut against Sri Lanka, which saw him take 5-57 in his only match played, will generate hope of a positive performance.
Unlike Elgar at Lord’s, Du Plessis will have the luxury of four pace bowlers, allowing him to split the workload on a seamer-friendly pitch.
His captaincy will be vital when the Proteas bowl.
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