England picked up two wickets late in the first session, to slow South Africa’s progress as the tourists continued to build their lead on the third day of the second Test here.
At lunch South Africa were on 160/3 with Hashim Amla on 61 and captain Faf du Plessis on 4. They currently lead by 290 runs.
South Africa had been making steady progress through the morning, largely untroubled until Ben Stokes changed the course of the session’s play with an aggressive over at Dean Elgar that brought about the left-hander opener’s downfall.
That wicket was quickly followed by that of Quinton de Kock, to ball that went across by James Anderson.
Before then Elgar and Hashim Amla, who’d resumed with South Africa’s total on 75/1 had seen off a difficult opening burst from Anderson and Stuart Broad.
The latter created two opportunities; the first when he found the outside edge of the Amla’s bat, but then didn’t appeal with Amla on 25. It was only a faint edge as shown by television’s ‘ultraedge’ technology, but with the exception of Alastair Cook at first slip the other England fielders all seemed very unsure, with Broad only appealing half-heartedly.
In his next over, Broad induced a false stroke from Elgar who flashed hard at a wide delivery outside off stump, with the ball flying quickly to the left of gully, where Anderson made an athletic attempt to grab it, but grassed a difficult opportunity.
Once Anderson and Broad were rested, batting got a lot easier for the two South Africans, who continued to build on the lead created by a fine performance with the ball on Saturday afternoon.
Amla smashed Liam Dawson out of the attack, taking 20 runs off the left arm slow bowler’s two overs, while Elgar, not in the best form, fought hard.
Together the duo shared a partnership of 135 for the second wicket, the rate of their scoring not as important as they sought to wear down England’s bowlers.
A frustrated Stokes then lifted the atmosphere with his over of bouncers at Elgar and the South African batsman would have been disappointed that he fell so easily into England’s trap, trying to play a shot at ball aimed at his head when he could well have just ducked it.
The ball looped to Anderson at square leg where he held a comfortable catch. Elgar’s 80 had seen him occupy the crease for over three hours, in which he faced 136 balls and 12 fours.
De Kock was smashed on the fore-arm with the first ball he faced from Stokes, which seemed to discomfort him and in the next over from Anderson, he nicked one going across him to be out for one.
Du Plessis and Amla, saw off an awkward period before the interval against a pumped England, and while the hosts would have enjoyed their lunch a little more owing to those wickets, it is still the Proteas who are well in front in this Test match.