London – England fought back well from the loss of captain Andrew Strauss to the fourth ball of the series against South Africa and reached 70/1 at lunch on the first day of the first Test at The Oval on Thursday.
Alastair Cook was 33 not out and Jonathan Trott was on 27. Morne Morkel trapped Strauss lbw without a run on the scoreboard, though an initial 'not out' decision by umpire Steve Davis had to be overturned after a successful review by South Africa.
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 and Trott, a former South Africa under-19 player, grew in momentum after a steady beginning. Both players ran the quick singles well and punished the wayward deliveries. Two short Jacques Kallis balls outside off stump were cut for four by each player.
The most profitable over of the morning, though, came from the world's number one-ranked bowler Dale Steyn when 13 runs came from it. It included a five after AB de Villiers' errant throw following a speedy Trott single disappeared for four overthrows. Then Cook pulled a short ball over fine leg for six.
England 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.
The start was delayed by 15 minutes because of a shower. – Reuters