CAPE TOWN – Ben Stokes’ counterattacking half-century put England on top at 317-5 against South Africa at stumps on the first day of the second test on Saturday.
Stokes made a rapid 74 not out with 11 fours and a six — and England racked up 150 in the final session — to ensure the tourists had a good opening day at Newlands.
“Yeah, it was a great finish for us,” England batsman Alex Hales said.
After winning the toss and batting on a good strip, England continued to turn the screw on top-ranked South Africa following a 241-run win in the first test.
Stokes was one of three batsmen to make a half-century on Saturday, as the top and middle order put together damaging partnerships.
South Africa briefly had an opportunity to take control after young fast bowler Kagiso Rabada took two wickets in two balls in his 3-74. England made a solid start, and was 167-2 when Rabada removed Nick Compton and James Taylor in successive deliveries either side of tea.
But the South African revival was short-lived, and England got back on top as Stokes and Jonny Bairstow built an unbeaten 94-run partnership for the sixth wicket. Stokes was especially aggressive, taking on anything short and wide for a flurry of boundaries in the last session.
“When he gets going like that, it’s brilliant viewing for the whole ground,” Hales said. “It really is exhilarating viewing.”
Australia takes control
Australia took the upper hand by reducing the West Indies to 207-6 after a rain-affected first day of the third test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.
The SCG pitch lived up to its reputation as being spin-friendly with Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe shared three wickets to justify the hosts’ decision to play two specialist spinners for a home test for the first time since 2006.
Opener Kraigg Brathwaite made a resilient 85 to provide almost lone resistance for the tourists on a day when 15 overs were lost to passing showers. Carlos Brathwaite (35 not out) and Denesh Ramdin (23 not out) shared an unbeaten stand of 48 runs for the seventh wicket to lift the West Indies past 200 after winning the toss and electing to bat.