Ben Stokes has single-handedly batted South Africa out of the second Test after scoring a brilliant unbeaten 204 in the first session of day two.
England went to lunch on 513-5. Jonny Bairstow is on 95 not out. England’s highest score at Newlands is 559 which they achieved in 1938 and they are certain to overtake that in the second session.
Stokes was on 74 overnight but reached his century in no time as he smashed South Africa’s bowlers to all corners of Newlands in an innings of brutal, aggressive force and determination. He made batting look effortless and, for the first hour of the day, batted as if this was a T20 game rather than a Test match against the supposed No 1 team in the world.
That title is now well and truly in name only as South Africa looked similar to the current West Indies team getting murdered in Australia.
With Jonny Barstow as a support act Stokes went big from the outset, smashing anything short and wide to the boundary.
His hundred (off 105 balls) is the fastest scored in South Africa since Mitchell Johnson (103 balls) in 2009 and his double-century (off 163 deliveries) is the second fastest ever and the fastest by an Englishman.
It’s like Stokes didn’t realise he as batting against the second new ball. He treated it like the white ball used in T20 cricket and smashed five fours in the first two overs of the day. England scored 45 runs in the first four overs and 91 runs in the 11 overs since the second new ball was taken.
The overnight partnership of 94 runs between Stokes and Bairstow reached 150 in the space of five overs as 74 runs were scored in the first 10 overs of the day and 101 in 12.2 overs. The partnership is now worth 290.
For the time being, Fortress Newlands is no more. What doesn’t appear to be short-term is South Africa’s rapid decline over the last 12 months.
The bowling was too short and wide too often to trouble England and the plan Kagiso Rabada talked about yesterday was nowhere to be found. Maybe this is what the future without Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander looks like?
What transpired in the two hours between the start of play on day two and lunch was nothing short of embarrassing for Hashim Amla and his team. South Africa were devoid of any fight or positive thinking and looked like they had no clue how to counter England’s relentless assault.
While England came out with a clear plan – to continue where they left off the previous afternoon by hitting boundaries at will – South Africa by contrast looked like they were just going through the motions and hoping for the best.
Hashim Amla’s captaincy has been exposed and his batsmen, already under a world of pressure before this match even started, have a mammoth task ahead of them when they eventually go out there to bat.
For now, and it doesn’t look like changing anytime soon, England hold all the cards and will probably look to declare around the 600-run mark, which should be reached well before tea.
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