Proteas grab late wickets, but captain Root, Sibley put England on top
CAPE TOWN – England showed how serious they are about levelling the series with South Africa as opener Dom Sibley and captain Joe Root put the visitors firmly in command of the second Test at Newlands on Sunday.
Despite the cloud cover being present for most of the day, there was little assistance for the hard-working Proteas bowling attack as England ended day three on 218/4, which gives them a lead of 264.
There was at least some reward for the South Africans at the end of a long day when Dwaine Pretorius and Anrich Nortje got rid of Root and nightwatchman Dominic Bess.
After a slow start in the morning, where he gained his first boundary after 34 balls, the 24-year-old Sibley proved why he has been brought into the England set-up as he neared his first Test century in his fourth match.
The right-hander dropped anchor to remain unbeaten on 85 (off 222 balls, 13x4) at the close, and he shared a third-wicket stand of 116 with Root, who brought up his 46th Test half-century in an enterprising knock of 61 off 98 balls (7x4).
There were few fears for the England batsmen in a Newlands pitch that flattened out on what became a pleasant day for cricket.
Nortje (2/36 in 15 overs) was the stand-out bowler for South Africa as he ran in all day long and hit the 150km/h mark on a regular basis.
He snared two of the four England wickets to fall when he lured Joe Denly (31) into playing a pull shot, and Pretorius took a diving catch at fine leg.
And then, in what turned out to be the last ball of the day, Nortje found the glove of England spinner Bess, and Quinton de Kock did the rest.
Kagiso Rabada got rid of the other England opener, Zak Crawley (25), who pushed hard outside off-stump and nicked it behind to De Kock.
There was some reward for the Proteas late in the day when Pretorius (1/34 in 12 overs) managed to find the edge of Root’s bat, and captain Faf du Plessis claimed the catch at slip.
Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj bowled 27 overs and conceded 79 runs, while Vernon Philander (0/12 in 12 overs) wasn’t able to make any further inroads either.
The one minor consolation for the Proteas is that they kept the run-rate down to a reasonable 2.8 per over, but now they will hope that the second new ball – which will become available after just one over on Monday – will work its magic to keep them in the game.