The Proteas were 16-0 at lunch after Kagiso Rabada took a career best 5-78 to limit England to 323 on day three.
England resumed their first innings on 238-5 on day three. They were expected to crack on in the first session and build a formidable lead.
But thanks to the determined bowling of Rabada in particular, South Africa limited the tourists to 323. England finished their first innings with a modest lead of 10 runs.
It didn’t take long for Dean Elgar and Stiaan van Zyl to regain the advantage for the hosts in a five-over period before lunch. The Proteas will begin the second session of day three with a lead of six runs and with 10 second-innings wickets intact.
Thanks to Rabada, the Proteas are back in the contest. The 20-year-old fast bowler made the crucial breakthrough in just the second over of the day when he dismissed Joe Root. England’s premier batsman added just four to his overnight score before he got an inside edge to wicketkeeper Dane Vilas.
The visitors proceeded to rebuild through Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali. They were helped in part by the erratic bowling of the South Africans. Debutant Hardus Viljoen continued to struggle with both his line and length, and came in for some punishment.
Chris Morris made a big contribution when he claimed the wicket of Ali in the 65th over. However, Vilas deserves a lot of credit for the dismissal, as he had to dive sharply to his right in order to secure the catch.
Proteas captain AB de Villiers made some mistakes in the session. The decision to post a man at deep square leg rather than at third slip was exposed when Ali, who was then new to the crease, nicked Morné Morkel through the gap in the cordon.
De Villiers got it right, however, when he reintroduced his best bowlers some 10 overs before the new ball was due. A Rabada yorker accounted for Stuart Broad, while a sharp bouncer by Morkel brushed the glove of Steven Finn and was caught by Vilas.
England’s innings ended shortly after they had taken the lead. Bairstow tried to dispatch Rabada into the crowd, but only succeeded in skying the ball to Stiaan van Zyl in the deep.
With that, Rabada had his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket. And what an important performance it may prove to be in the context of the game and series.
For ball-by-ball commentary, click below:
SA 1st innings 313 – Dean Elgar 46, Hashim Amla 40, Ben Stokes 3-53, Steven Finn 2-50
England 1st innings 323 – Joe Root 110, Ben Stokes 58, Kagiso Rabada 5-78, Morné Morkel 3-76
SA 2nd innings 16-0 – Dean Elgar 10 not out, Stiaan van Zyl 6 not out
SA lead by six runs