PORT ELIZABETH - Ben Stokes survived several scares but featured in a 76-run late afternoon partnership with Ollie Pope as England reached 224/4 wickets at close on the opening day of the third test against South Africa on Thursday.
England's talisman, named International Cricket Council Cricketer of the Year on the eve of the test, will resume on 38 runs at St George’s Park on Friday along with the 22-year-old Pope, unbeaten on 39.
Their partnership unshackled England and handed them a good platform to potentially go on and make a significant first innings’ total.
South Africa laboured on a lifeless pitch which offered little for their seamers but did allow Keshav Maharaj to continuously probe with his spin. He bowled 30 successive overs, across three sessions, to finish with figures of 1-55.
England’s plan for the openers to occupy the crease, tiring out the bowlers and softening the ball, was diligently on course as they reached 61-0 at lunch.