London - Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott dominated the South African bowlers in the afternoon session on day one of the first Test as England comfortably reached 158 for one at tea at The Oval on Thursday.
Although England started badly with the loss of captain Andrew Strauss to the fourth ball of the day, the seemingly indomitable Cook (69 not out) and Trott (on 68) fought back with a dogged spirit and punished anything wayward.
Cook reached his half-century with a slapped pull shot off leg-spinner Imran Tahir over midwicket for four when the bowler dropped short in his length. Trott's 50 came up with possibly the best shot of the day, certainly the most elegant, when he effortlessly pushed a Dale Steyn ball through extra cover for four.
England, who won the toss when there was rain in the air before the sunshine broke through after lunch, are seeking to hold on to their top ranking in test cricket, as South Africa can leapfrog them if they win the three-match series.
It has been an impressive recovery by England after Strauss was lbw to Morne Morkel. The initial 'not out' decision by umpire Steve Davis had to be overturned after a successful Proteas review.
Morkel was bowling around the wicket to left-hander Strauss, who played around a straight delivery and the replay revealed the ball would have struck the top of middle stump.
The partnership between Cook, who pulled fast bowler Steyn for six in the morning session, and Trott has so far spanned just short of four hours.
Trott raised the 150 stand when he threw his bat at a wide delivery from Jacques Kallis, for another boundary.
The duo have previous for batting long periods of time together, having added an unbeaten 329 in Brisbane against Australia in 2010 and 251 against Sri Lanka in 2011.
The start was delayed by 15 minutes because of a shower. – Reuters