The first day’s play of the third Test at the St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth neither saw a flurry of boundaries nor wickets going down at an alarming rate. Both England and South Africa had to work to gain the ascendancy. In the end, after 90 overs of hard work, Joe Root and Co find themselves at 224 for four. Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope capped off their day with an unbeaten 76-run partnership.
Crawley and Sibley start cautiously
After the Brits elected to bat, their openers, Zak Crawley (44) and Dominic Sibley put their heads down. The duo didn’t play a shout out of anger and played out the entire pre-lunch session, taking the visitors to 61 without loss in 27 overs. To their dismay, in the fourth over the second session, pacer Kagiso Rabada broke the 70-run stand. The speedster got rid of Sibley, caught by Dean Elgar.
Crawley ground hard for 203 balls before Anrich Nortje pinned him. The batsman clipped one down to leg-gully where Rassie van der Dussen took a sharp diving catch. From there on skipper Joe Root (25) and Joe Denly (27) made sure that the Three Lions went into Tea without any further hiccup. Going into the third and final session, England were ambling along at 117 for two in 58 overs.
Pope and Stokes hold the fort for England
Yet again, the Proteas made a breakthrough after a break. This time around, Keshav Maharaj trapped Denly in front. A few overs later, Rabada castled Root’s woodwork to put pressure on the English batting. Both Denly and Root would be disappointed after not being able to convert their starts. The onus was then on Ben Stokes (38*) and Ollie Pope (39*) to steady the ship for the visitors.
When Root’s wicket went down, 25.1 overs remained in the day’s play. The pair of Pope and Stokes played with caution and saw out the overs without much fuss. Both of them stepped on the gas as they got the measure of the conditions. Even as Stokes smashed five fours, Pope found the boundary seven times. For the hosts, Maharaj toiled hard for 32 overs, though the spinner gave only 55 runs.
Here is how Twitterati reacted to the day’s play:
England Batting first … they will Win … 👍👍 #SAvENG
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) January 16, 2020
Protea Fire time! Enjoy boys.
— AB de Villiers (@ABdeVilliers17) January 16, 2020
@faf1307 is a gunnnn captain make no mistake about that…. people talk about out of the box thinking, well therz plenty of that in that brain!
I saw it so many times in the @MSL_T20 being on the same team during the comp n here is another example of that#BeautyAndTheBrains 😉
— Tabraiz Shamsi (@shamsi90) January 16, 2020
As much as this is a test match between #SAvENG , it is also the #StGeorgesband up against the @TheBarmyArmy
It's going to be awesome!!
— Alviro Petersen (@AlviroPetersen) January 16, 2020
Another excellent day of Test cricket. Collectively if Pope, Stokes, Buttler and Curran get England to 400 then they'll be in the driving seat but on the flip side if they're all out for less than 300, then SA will feel confident. Day 2 will be key #SAvENG
— Arup Ghose (@arup_ghose) January 16, 2020
If I was in the England dressing room, I'd be quite happy. Still work to do on a turning pitch. But a pleasing start. Got to get to at least 400 by the end of the innings #SAvENG
— George Thorpe (@MrGeorgeThorpe) January 16, 2020
England will be the slightly happier side. To only lose 4 wickets is good. Too many made starts and failed to make a big score again. #SAvENG
— Adam Staniforth (@adam_staniforth) January 16, 2020
Ollie Pope is going to be some player, potential long term No.3 in my opinion #SAvENG
— Matt Harpin (@matt_harpin) January 16, 2020
Zac Crawley – Big Future #SAvENG
— Richard Mason (@RichardMasonPlc) January 16, 2020
Don't how to feel about day one with all the dropped catches. #SAvENG
— Fumisukoma (@Siki_Xaba) January 16, 2020
Stokes again holding everything together. We're lucky to have the best cricketer in the world #SAvENG
— Lee Henderson (@lee_henderson92) January 16, 2020
I smell a draw #SAvENG
— Abuti Drink-O-Pop (@Chorky_Seane) January 16, 2020
SA have burned both reviews today…..this may backfire tomorrow as England look to set a commanding position.
Pope looking as good as he did first innings in CT. Player.#SAvENG #Pope #bbccricket #SAvsENG
— Duke and Kookaburra (@d_ktalkballs) January 16, 2020
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