Kagiso Rabada struck right before tea to leave England on 167-3 after two sessions at Newlands.
Nick Compton’s dismissal for 45, which prompted tea to be taken, slightly changed the complexity of the day’s play as South Africa’s bowlers initially battled to make an impact early on.
After struggling in the first session, Morne Morkel improved in the second and was the main creator of South Africa’s chances, not all of which were taken when offered.
England scored 34 runs in the first five overs after lunch as South Africa struggled to build pressure. Kagiso Rabada, who has been a tad expensive at more than four runs an over, was unlucky not to add to his wickets column as three chances flew past the slips off the bat of Alex Hales.
Hales (60) played well for his fifty but will be kicking himself for not going on to make a big hundred. To be fair he did fall to a good delivery from Morkel, a perfect line and length just outside off which found the edge to AB de Villiers, who poached the catch in front of Dean Elgar.
It was the kind of delivery that can be very affective on this wicket, but the bowlers have been too inconsistent in their execution so far.
Hales is the first opening partner of Alastair Cook to reach a fifty in 1o Tests.
On a day in which bowling has been tough, it was important for South Africa to take their chances in the field, something which they struggled with in the first Test at Kingsmead.
Chris Morris, who took such a brilliant one-handed catch to get rid of Alastair Cook this morning, dropped a similar, albeit easier, chance off Morkel to give Joe Root a second life with his score on 13. It was a big turning point in the session and could cost them dearly by the time England finish their first innings.
A half-chance presented itself shortly before tea when Root got a top edge off a Rabada delivery, but the ball dropped just short of a sprinting De Villiers.
While England are still in control with just three wickets down, South Africa will take heart from Compton’s wicket which brings a new batsman to the crease.
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