LONDON - An adventurous half-century from Quinton de Kock briefly lifted South African spirits in the first session of the third day here Saturday, but ultimately it’s England who remain firmly in control of the first Test.
South Africa went to lunch on 323/8 still trailing England by 135 runs with Vernon Philander, struggling with a bruised right hand after being struck by James Anderson on 21, and Keshav Maharaj on 5.
De Kock registered the second fastest half-century at Lord’s producing some thrilling stroke-play in a counter-attack that from a South African perspective didn’t last long enough.
De Kock went on the charge after England took the second new ball, punishing Stuart Broad in an exciting period with some lavish driving through the off-side and some silky flicks through the leg-side.
His 50, which he brought up with a magnificent lofted on-drive over midwicket, came off just 36 balls and was bettered only by Indian great Kapil Dev, who took just 35 balls in a match here 24 years ago.
Sure England, with a substantial lead had set attacking fields, but the manner of De Kock’s play put the home team’s captain, Joe Root, on the backfoot and scarred Broad’s figures. He conceded 35 runs in a four-spell with the second new ball.
De Kock’s counter-attack was timely. South Africa had lost their two overnight batsmen, Temba Bavuma and Kagiso Rabada to spinners, Moeen Ali and Liam Dawson respectively.
Resuming on 214/5 the duo looked reasonably comfortable as they added 30 in ten overs, with Bavuma registering a seventh Test fifty. It was skillful and very well-crafted innings, and it took a gem from Moeen Ali to end it, with the ball sliding on finding the edge providing Ben Stokes with an easy catch at slip.
Bavuma had batted for 195 minutes faced 130 balls and struck nine fours.
He and nightwatchman Rabada - who’s been suspended for the next Test by the ICC after being caught swearing at Stokes on the first day - added 41 for the sixth wicket.
Rabada once again showed he’s no mug, making 27 with four boundaries and was caught behind by Jonny Bairstow, to give Dawson his first wicket of the innings.
De Kock and Philander added 66 in a seventh wicket partnership dominated by the former. Philander was struck a nasty blow on his right hand - his bowling one - by Anderson, who got a ball to rear up off a crack.
Philander immediately dropped his bat and had to receive treatment and is clearly in pain removing his hand from bat handle virtually after every shot.