Alex Hales says Ben Stokes’s aggressive innings towards the end of day one gave England the upper hand.
Stokes will continue on day two with his score on 74 and a 94-run partnership with Jonny Bairstow as England finished the first day strongly on 317-5.
‘It was a great finish for us,’ Hales said. ‘The second new ball was going to be a key period. The way that Stokes and Jonny attacked it and took the game to them has probably given us the upper hand on the day’s play.
‘It was evenly poised and could have gone either way at the 70th-over mark. They way they attacked the bowlers on what wasn’t a very flat wicket was pretty impressive.’
Hales (60) was also among the runs and hit his first Test fifty before he was caught behind off Morne Morkel’s bowling.
‘It’s a great feeling to get my first fifty, but I’m obviously disappointed not to go on and make it three figures. I think throughout the day there was bounce and a little bit of movement which is encouraging signs for us going into day two.
‘It’s brilliant to see Stokes bat that way. He is a maverick player and someone you love having in your team as a batsman, bowler and probably also the best fielder in the side so when he gets going like that it’s brilliant viewing for the fans.
‘It was an even battle between bat and ball, but what we’ve seen from Stokes and Jonny has given us the upper hand. The lengths our bowlers will look to bowl on that wicket will definitely bring the keeper and the slips into play and try and get them coming forward.’