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Ken Borland

South Africa lose the plot in the afternoon, in desperate trouble

Posted on October 12, 2022 by Ken

South Africa lost the plot in the afternoon and found themselves in desperate trouble after the second day of the second Test against England at Old Trafford on Friday, needing 241 more runs just to make the hosts bat again.

Openers Sarel Erwee (12*) and Dean Elgar (11*) will resume in the morning on 23 without loss but the skipper will not only be contemplating the massive mountain in front of his team, but also his own decision-making in the field.

England amassed 415/9 declared in their first innings thanks to inspired centuries by captain Ben Stokes and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, who added a match-defining 173 for the sixth wicket.

They came together in an intriguing morning session in which fast bowler Anrich Nortje made two early inroads into the England batting by dismissing Jonny Bairstow (49) and Zak Crawley (38), both edging excellent deliveries that angled in and then nipped away to be caught behind the wicket.

That left England on 147/5 and South Africa were still four runs ahead. But Stokes and Foakes batted with great clarity and composure, digging in until the hosts went into lunch on 212/5.

With the lead now already 61, one imagined the talk in the South African dressingroom over lunch would have been all about hitting England hard straight after the break to try and get the tail in to bat as soon as possible.

But incredibly, the on-fire Nortje was not brought on until after spinners Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj had bowled for 35 minutes, allowing Stokes and Foakes to get themselves properly in at the crease.

Having established control, Stokes and Foakes then batted with more freedom as the Proteas became more and more desperate shopping for a breakthrough, four reviews not going their way.

Stokes went to his fourth century in 14 Tests against South Africa, but fell for 103 as he tried to slog Kagiso Rabada. One of the most competitive cricketers in the world had produced a masterclass in playing the situation, his judgement of when to attack and when to defend solidly being well-nigh perfect.

Foakes batted on for his second Test century and ended with a career-best 113 not out, a determined innings of great value for his team, in which he targeted his favoured leg-side with nifty footwork and fine shots, collecting nine fours.

Nortje’s bowling – he finished with 3/82 in 20 overs – and the fact that England were unable to buy a wicket in the nine overs they bowled at South Africa before stumps, were about the only positives for the Proteas on a second day that somehow managed to be worse than their opening day woes.

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