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17-Jan-2020 16:11:00 GMT
SA vs Eng - 3rd Test, Port Elizabeth, day 2

Pope and Stokes tons put England on top

Port Elizabeth: Ollie Pope struck his first of what will surely be many Test centuries and Ben Stokes cracked a hundred of his own to put England in a dominant position on day two of the third Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth.

Pope dazzled for 135 not out, at 22 years and 15 days becoming the youngest player to make a maiden Test hundred for England since Alastair Cook in 2006.

Stokes continued his stellar form for 120 to take the tourists to 499-9 declared - the first time England have made more than 400 batting first for over two years.

The fifth-wicket pair extended their overnight partnership to 203, crushing the spirit of the South African attack.

Sam Curran and Mark Wood took advantage, Curran adding a breezy 44 and Wood swinging his way to 42 from only 23 deliveries, including five sixes.

After England declared, off-spinner Dom Bess exploited the assistance on offer, removing both Pieter Malan and Zubayr Hamza to leave the Proteas 60-2, 439 behind.

Bad light and rain closed in with eight overs remaining, denying England the chance to make further inroads, but they still have a golden opportunity to go 2-1 up with one Test to play.

Even with the surface remaining good for batting, England have the advantage of scoreboard pressure and the weapon of Wood, who bowled a fiery spell in excess of 90mph in his first Test for 11 months.

If day one of this match was even, fluctuating and intriguing, day two was an England romp towards complete control.

Brief scores:
South Africa 60 for 2 (Bess 2-12) trail England 499 for 9 dec (Pope 135*, Stokes 117, Maharaj 5-180) by 439 runs

On Thursday, runscoring seemed tricky on a sleepy pitch, perhaps because the South Africa bowlers nagged and home captain Faf du Plessis was canny.

On Friday, England rattled along at almost 4.5 runs an over. Maybe it was because the surface had gained some pace, or because South Africa were lacklustre. Chiefly, it was because of the brilliance of Pope and Stokes.

They built on the platform laid on the first evening, when England closed on 224-4 and their stand stood at 76. In the morning, Stokes came and and blazed his way to three figures. Later, after Pope inched his way to the maiden ton, he unfurled some outrageous strokes.

When Kagiso Rabada - banned for the next Test - thought he had Wood caught, England declared. As replays revealed Rabada had overstepped, England skipper Joe Root changed his mind and England continued to add 23 more runs. The farce summed up South Africa's day.

After such a chastening time in the field, it is to the credit of openers Malan and Dean Elgar that they battled to add 50 for the first wicket, only for Bess to strike in the gathering gloom.

First Malan chipped a catch back to the bowler, then Hamza inside-edged to Pope at short leg.


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