England look to force home their advantage on day three of third Test

England’s bowlers will look to tighten the tourists’ grip on the third morning of the third Test against South Africa, building on fine hundreds from Ollie Pope and Ben Stokes.

Pope hit an unbeaten 135, his first ton in international cricket, after Stokes hammered his way to 120 for the latest addition to his growing list of memorable performances.

That allowed captain Joe Root the luxury of declaring on 499 for nine, with two cheap wickets for Dom Bess seeing the Proteas struggle to 60 for two.

The hosts will resume labouring under the weight of scoreboard pressure, with England looking to force home their advantage and push towards a 2-1 series lead with one to play.

South Africa’s best hope may be for the weather to intervene, after showers shaved eight overs from the second day, with mixed forecasts over the weekend.

Key battle: Mark Wood v Dean Elgar

Dean Elgar defends a rising delivery
Dean Elgar faced a hostile spell from Mark Wood on the second evening (Michael Sheehan/AP)

Making his first appearance since the World Cup final in July and his first in Test cricket in 11 months, Mark Wood gave a glimpse of how his rapid brand of pace bowling could blow the game open. He did not take a wicket in his first three overs but generated serious speed and struck Elgar on the elbow with one that reared off a length. The opener does not shirk a challenge, though, and would take pride in blunting England’s ‘X factor’ option.

What they said

Proteas struggling for Rabada replacement

Kagiso Rabada
Kagiso Rabada will miss the fourth Test (Michael Sheehan/AP)

Head coach Mark Boucher’s plans for the decisive Test of the series in Johannesburg have been tossed in the air after Kagiso Rabada – the man most likely to make things happen on a lively Wanderers pitch – was banned for the match. He paid the price for his send-off of Root on day one – picking up his fourth demerit point in a two-year period. Not only do South Africa lack a stand-in of match pace, they also face a new headache meeting the transformation targets of ethnic diversity they have already missed three times.

Stokes does the double

The second Englishman after @BeefyBotham to score 4️⃣0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ Test runs and take 1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ wickets! 🙌

Scorecard: https://t.co/rZ6DyIvG1d#SAvENGpic.twitter.com/eU88BcJZEV

— England Cricket (@englandcricket) January 17, 2020

Before reaching his century Stokes ticked his 4,000th Test run to become just the seventh man to achieve that mark having also taken at least 100 wickets. Sir Ian Botham, predictably, is the solitary Englishman among the other six, joined by Jacques Kallis, Sir Garfield Sobers, Carl Hooper, Kapil Dev and Daniel Vettori.

The 200 club

Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope
Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope put on 203 for the fifth wicket (Michael Sheehan/AP)

Stokes and Pope’s stand was the 100th stand of 200 or more for England. Among the previous 20 exactly half featured Sir Alastair Cook.

To declare or not to declare?

Joe Root
Joe Root finally declared with England on 499 for nine (Mike Egerton/PA).

There was confusion when Wood was dismissed off a no-ball towards the end of the England innings, with everyone heading for the pavilion in an apparent sign that Root had signalled the declaration. When it transpired Rabada had over-stepped and Wood was not out, the innings carried on. The laws around a declaration state “once notified, the decision cannot be changed” but it was not clear if Root had officially made the signal.

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