If the Proteas’ bowlers can continue to make the most of the conditions at The Oval on day two, then this could turn in their favour very quickly.
It’s honours even at The Oval, for the time being at least. But that can change very quickly if the Proteas can break the Cook-Stokes stand that threatens to get England ahead.
There’s 21 more overs until the new ball, but with more overcast conditions and patches of rain expected, the pacemen, especially the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris, will look to get the swing that they wouldn’t have expected to get on Thursday.
The pace attack combined efficiently on day one. Vernon Philander bowled brilliantly by sticking to a simple, wicket-to-wicket approach and letting the surface do the rest. The pace and bounce of Morne Morkel unsettled the batsmen, while Rabada and Morris – once they’d controlled the swing – did the rest.
There’s no reason why they can’t continue in that fashion, and one feels that this partnership, which has crept up to 51, is all that stands in their way. Cook was resilient all day for his 82, and has looked fairly comfortable despite the pitch playing tricks. Stokes (21) did well to navigate the rain-interrupted spell towards the end of the day.
At 171-4, this could go either way in the morning session on day two at The Oval.
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