The Proteas took three more wickets after lunch to leave England on 149-4, as the Proteas seized control in the second session at The Oval.
It was England’s session in the morning of the 100th Test at The Oval, as Alastair Cook and debutant Tom Westley navigated a period that saw the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris swing the ball around in the useful overhead conditions.
The Proteas, however, will feel like they’ve brought themselves right back into it, sparked by Morris producing a corker of a delivery immediately after the break.
It remains to be seen whether or not it was a good toss to lose after being asked to bowl first, but the Proteas appeared to find their rhythm in the second session, especially with Vernon Philander returning to the field after suffering from a stomach bug.
Morris, who found more swing than he might have anticipated in the first session, produced a peach of a ball five deliveries into the second session to see off Westley, with skipper Faf du Plessis taking a decent catch at an awkward height to see off the promising debutant for 25.
Westley’s Essex teammate, Alastair Cook, showed his 142 caps of Test experience to push on and strike up a useful 49-run stand with Joe Root, who raced to 26 off as many balls. It was thanks to a blistering spell from Morne Morkel to bog Root down, who would only end up scoring three more runs from the next 30 balls. Morkel didn’t take the wicket, but as he has done so often in his career, built up the pressure without taking the plaudits.
Philander (2-8) was brought back into the attack after overcoming his stomach problems, and a moment of brilliance from Quinton de Kock saw off the England skipper for 29. De Kock, moving to his left, jumped quickly to take a one-handed catch to his right to hand Philander his second wicket of the innings.
That introduced Dawid Malan, the second of three England debutants to stride out to the crease. The Paarl Boys-educated batsman, who was Man of the Match on his T20 debut for England against the Proteas in June, struggled to absorb the pressure as he took 15 balls to get off the mark. Two balls later he was floored, thanks to an excellent yorker from Kagiso Rabada seeing off the rattled Malan for one.
Cook remains the constant, who brought up his 85th score of fifty or more the over before Malan departed. He’ll go into the final session on 72, with Ben Stokes on 10, as the Proteas will hope to continue to chip away.
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