London: An incredible debut for Toby Roland-Jones, the England pacer, and a brilliant century by Ben Stokes left South Africa in deep trouble by the end of the second day of the third of four Tests – with the series level at 1-1 at The Oval on Friday.
Roland-Jones first made a crucial run-a-ball 25 that helped Stokes (112 in 153 balls) complete his fifth Test century and lift England to 353 in overcast conditions. He then picked up four wickets in the space of 24 balls to rip through South Africa's top order, playing a major part in reducing South Africa to 126 for 8 by stumps, still trailing England by 227 runs.
Temba Bavuma (34 not out) and Morne Morkel (2 not out) were in the middle at close of play.
Roland-Jones's victims were the top four batsmen – Dean Elgar, Heino Kuhn, Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock – resulting in a terrific first spell of 8-3-22-4. James Anderson struck twice after that, leaving South Africa reeling at 61 for 7 at one stage. With Vernon Philander unable to bat after being hospitalised for a stomach ailment, South Africa's innings fell apart quickly.
Roland-Jones struck with just his tenth ball in Test cricket when he forced Elgar to edge behind at the stroke of tea. After the interval, he had Kuhn lbw and dismissed Amla for just six with a lifter that took the edge through to the wicketkeeper. De Kock was then caught at gully by Stokes to complete Roland-Jones's dream opening day of bowling in Test cricket.
Bavuma and Kagiso Rabada (30) added a face-saving 53 for the eighth wicket to take South Africa past its lowest Test total of 79 against India in Nagpur in 2015 before Broad bowled Rabada. Bavuma managed to guide Morne Morkel to the close, leaving another 28 runs needed to avoid the follow on.
Earlier, England resumed on 171 for 4, with Alastair Cook on 82 and Stokes on 21. Cook added just six to that score before being trapped lbw by Morkel, while Stokes cashed in against the old ball after seeing off the new.
Stokes kept losing partners as he neared his century but got there with two sixes off consecutive balls off Keshav Maharaj. Stokes eventually holed out off Morkel, but not before giving England a competitive total. Roland-Jones then took over to complete a good day for England.
England - 353 (Stokes 112, Cook 88)
South Africa - 126 for 8 (Bavuma 34*, Roland-Jones 4-39)
Status - South Africa trail by 227 runs