Morne Morkel struck right on the stroke of tea to hand the Proteas the advantage, with England on 147-4 on day one at Old Trafford.
It’s been a hugely successful session for the Proteas, after England appeared to have done all the hard work in the morning session to see off the new ball with only one wicket down.
While the visitors bowled well in the first session, they couldn’t back up the pressure with wicket-taking deliveries. But Keshav Maharaj continued his excellent series to remove Alastair Cook, before two more wickets fell at key stages thanks to a fine bit of wicket-keeping from Quinton de Kock to see off Tom Westley. A good angling delivery from Morkel (1-34) to get rid of Dawid Malan in the penultimate over made it South Africa’s session.
England went into the second session on 67-1, after Alastair Cook and Westley battled hard to erase concerns about a top-order collapse. In conditions that were expected to help the pace bowlers on an overcast day in Manchester, it’s been Maharaj to apply the pressure and remove the dangerman. Cook, who batted well for his 46, lasted eight overs after lunch, before Maharaj got enough flight and at a tricky length to deceive Cook and force the edge behind to De Kock.
Only eight runs came off Maharaj’s first seven overs, so something had to give, and it was just reward for the consistency with which he bowled. His 18 overs saw seven maidens for his 1-33.
Westley followed Cook back to the pavilion three overs later, and this time it was pace to outfox the rookie. Westley left the ball pretty well up until that point, but he played at one and he found the edge, prompting a brilliant catch behind the stumps. De Kock had taken a fine catch to see off Root in the third Test, and this was a carbon copy, as he jumped to his right, despite his weight being to his left, plucking it one-handed to get rid of Westley for 29.
Root and Dawid Malan knuckled down from there, with Root surviving an lbw review from Rabada (1-37), which was clipping the top of the stumps when he was on 19. The pair pushed on to a 50-run stand as they appeared to look settled going into the final session. But Morkel was brought back and decided to bowl over the wicket, despite bowling around for most of the innings. He angled one away from Malan, who decided to have a go, only to edge it to Faf du Plessis for 18.
The Proteas now have their tails up, with England precariously placed on 147-4, but Root will be the one the tourists will target from here, as the England skipper goes into tea, not out on 32.
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