Belligerent Stokes keeps Proteas under pressure


A counter-attacking innings of 74 not out from Ben Stokes enabled England to regain the initiative on day one of the second Test with South Africa at Newlands, after the tourists had threatened to waste first use of an excellent batting strip.

Already 1-0 down in the four-Test series and shorn of Dale Steyn and Kyle Abbott through injury, the Proteas faced a daunting challenge in glorious conditions for run-scoring when Alastair Cook called correctly.

Several players were guilty of failing to convert starts into significant scores - Alex Hales, Nick Compton and Joe Root falling for 60, 45 and 50 respectively.

However, an England side boosted by the return of record wicket-taker James Anderson reached stumps on 317-5, with Stokes and Jonny Bairstow (39 not out) having accelerated rapidly against the second new ball.

Stokes was particularly aggressive, striking 11 fours and a huge six off spinner Dane Piedt (0-63), and will have a third Test hundred in his sights on the second morning.

Kagiso Rabada impressed with figures of 3-74 in his first Test outing on home soil, while debutant Chris Morris - the other bowler brought in to South Africa's side - took a wonderful one-handed catch to remove Cook for 27 but proved expensive in returning 1-99 from 22 overs.

Having been presented with clear skies, a true pitch and a fast outfield, England's batsmen had the perfect opportunity to exhibit the ruthlessness that coach Trevor Bayliss felt was lacking in victory at Kingsmead last time out.

South Africa's only breakthrough prior to lunch came courtesy of a sensational grab by Morris, who dived low to his left at third slip to take a thick edge from Cook off Rabada.

Hales and Compton took the score to 129 with a second-wicket stand of 74, the former overcoming a few nervy moments against Rabada to register a maiden Test fifty as his partner briefly raised the tempo with a flurry of post-lunch boundaries.

The Proteas hit back strongly, though, Morne Morkel having Hales caught at second slip before Rabada struck two key blows either side of tea.

Compton's tame dismissal, which saw the number three clip an innocuous short delivery to midwicket, brought the afternoon session to a close and James Taylor was caught behind for a golden duck when Rabada resumed his over.

Having been dropped by a diving Morris on 13, Root nibbled at one from the debutant immediately after reaching 50 and provided wicketkeeper Quinton De Kock, who came in for JP Duminy, with his second catch.

Yet Stokes appeared in excellent touch and received able support from a similarly confident Bairstow as runs flowed freely late in the day.