SA vs England 3rd test day 2 - Bad light stops play
A stubborn, well-calculated and majestic century by Joe Root stood in the way of South Africa having a dominant day two of the third test at the Wanderers.
Root stood unbeaten on 106 when the umpires stopped play, 25 overs before the close of play, because of bad light and with England on 238/5. England were 75 runs in areas.
Responding to the Proteas’ first innings total of 313, the English took advantage of the fast outfield, lofting bad length balls over inner fielders for boundaries gleefully. They were travelling at 4.5 runs per over when play was suspended.
Ben Stokes, as usual, was at the forefront of the surge. The left-hander, whose reputation as an all-rounder grew to astronomical heights with his 258 in Cape Town, clobbered 58 runs from 54 balls.
It took a Morne Morkel delivery that he misjudged to dismiss the ferocious hitter without similar Newlands damage being inflicted. Morkel caught him off his own bowling.
The unassuming Jonny Bairstow joined Root at the crease and must have marvelled as Root’s confidence, stride on the front foot, grew with every ball he dispatched to the boundary.
Root swept 17 fours off the Proteas seam attack and none were spared punishment. Hardus Viljoen, who started his day on a whimsical note – getting England captain Alastair Cook with his first test delivery – faded under the toil of the searing Johannesburg heat.
Kagiso Rabada was also more inspiring in the morning session but his late afternoon and evening spells were barren. He ended the day with respectable figures of 2/44 after 14.4 overs, however, after getting the wickets of Alex Hales and Nick Compton.
Morkel, the vastly more experienced of the four-pronged pace attack, asked the most questions as the day wore on and was rewarded with figures of 2/63 after 14 overs.
Chris Morris struggled but it had yet occurred to stand-in captain AB de Villiers to experiment with part-time spinner Dean Elgar, if only to vary things up.
Root became comfortable with pace bowling arrowed at him. The pitch, which offered assistance in the morning session, gave little movement off the deck late on. One of the stars of England’s Ashes win over Australia last year, Root was due a score in this series to serve a reminder why he’s ranked fourth on the ICC test batting rankings.
With their long batting line up, the visitors will back themselves to get a slender first innings lead – considering they still have Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad and James Anderson to bat.
South Africa trail England 1-0 in the four-match series.