Proteas / 26 December 2019, 5:54pm / Ockert de Villiers at the SuperSport Park
South Africa 277/9 at stumps
South Africa laboured to 277 for nine at stumps on the first day of the opening Test between England and South Africa which started on Thursday at SuperSport Park.
Quinton de Kock provided some much-needed stability after the South African batting spine had all but capitulated.
South Africa was in all sorts of trouble on 97 for four following the departure of Rassie van der Dussen when De Kock walked to the middle.
De Kock scored a quickfire half-century off 45 balls to inject a crumb of optimism.
All-rounder Dwaine Pretorius proved to be a worthy companion to De Kock in his Test debut adding a fruitful 33 to their sixth-wicket 87-run partnership.
While De Kock featured with the bat keeping South Africa’s innings from collapse, England’s Sam Curran played a starring role with the ball in hand.
Curren was on song finishing the day with figures of 4/57 nearly single handedly ripping the spine out of South Africa’s batting unit.
He had a spectacular with the ball in hand striking at crucial periods of the match removing Aiden Markram (20), Van der Dussen (6), Dwaine Pretorius and South African anchor, De Kock.
The England side was struck by a flu-bug which saw three players; Ollie Pope, Jack Leach and Chris Woakes all miss out of action.
England chose not to pick a frontline spinner, instead of playing five seamers, with Jimmy Anderson picked to play his 150th Test. All-rounder Ben Stokes battled with dehydration, leaving the field for extended periods.
The match got off to a dramatic start both on and off the field after play was delayed by five minutes after veteran photographer Chris Kotze had to be stretchered off the field after he tripped over the boundary rope. A limping Kotze made a return to resume his duties.
Proteas opener Dean Elgar gave Anderson the perfect gift on his first return to Test cricket in five months while earning his 150th Test cap.
Elgar edged a leg-side loosener to the keeper for a nightmarish start to the opening Test.
Zubayr Hamza (39) had a decent inning before he fell victim to Stuart Broad steering the ball to Stokes at second slip. Hamza hit Broad for four on the previous delivery holding his pose long after the ball had reached the boundary rope.
Du Plessis seemed to come to the rescue sharing a 26-run partnership with Van der Dussen.
The duo stepped up a gear after lunch adding 18 runs to the scoreboard before Van der Dussen edged to Joe Root at first slip.
The Proteas captain followed Van der Dussen three overs later with Broad inducing the edge with Root once again taking the catch with South Africa on 111 for five.
Vernon Philander made an impressive stand with De Kock with the duo sharing a 47-run partnership before the latter fell painstakingly short of his sixth century falling victim to Curran edging the ball to the keeper.
Philander held the fort with Keshav Maharaj going out to the bowling of Joffa Archer finally getting a breakthrough after a rough day in the field. Kagiso Rabada joined Philander, but he lasted all of 24 balls before he got cleaned bowled by Broad for 12.