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Ken Borland

Proteas fritter away a commanding position

Posted on October 05, 2022 by Ken

South Africa frittered away a commanding position with the bat as they closed the second day of the first Test against England at Lord’s on Thursday on 289 for seven, a lead of 124.

While that is a very handy lead, the Proteas will have to bat last and their advantage should have been so much more as they reached tea on 158 for two, replying to England’s small first innings of 165.

Kagiso Rabada wrapped up the England innings, after they began the day on 116 for six, finishing with five for 52 in 19 overs, getting his name on the Lord’s honours board and just reward for his masterful bowling.

Dean Elgar and Sarel Erwee set forth on the South African reply an hour before lunch, initially just trying to survive the first 12 overs of swing bowling from James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

They blossomed after lunch, taking their first-wicket partnership to an excellent 85. England were fortunate to break the stand when Elgar (47) was unable to knock the ball away from his stumps when it rebounded off his back arm, via thigh-pad. Anderson was the lucky bowler, but Elgar had earlier survived a couple of unplayable deliveries from the veteran seamer.

Keegan Petersen (24) helped Erwee add another 53 for the second wicket, and the left-handed opener ploughed on in impressive, tenacious fashion.

South Africa were just seven runs behind with eight wickets in hand at the tea break, and with Erwee well-set and Aiden Markram looking dangerous, they would have fancied being far ahead at stumps.

But Markram did not add to his tea-time score of 16, edging his first ball after the break, via a poor stroke, to wicketkeeper Ben Foakes off Jack Leach.

With the left-arm spinner controlling matters at one end, captain Ben Stokes then produced one of his trademark momentum-changing spells. In a five-over burst in which he gave his absolute everything, England’s lion-hearted Golden Arm bounced out Erwee for a fighting 73 that had put the Proteas in a strong position.

Stokes then cleverly switched to a fuller length and a scrambled seam to jag the ball back into Rassie van der Dussen and trap him lbw for 19.

Kyle Verreynne did not look comfortable and was caught behind off Stuart Broad for 11, leaving South Africa on 210 for six, a collapse of four for 50.

But Marco Jansen (41*) showed both astute defence and the ability to hit the ball a long way, as he and Keshav Maharaj added a much-needed 72 for the seventh wicket. Maharaj scored a pugnacious 41 off 49 balls before Stokes (12-3-53-3) had him caught on the hook.

Their crucial runs in the last half-hour showed that South Africa’s batting line-up can indeed go deep.

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