Rain cuts opening day short after South African pacers dictate terms

South Africa took a firm command on proceedings on a rain-affected opening day at Lord’s, snuffing out six wickets before the weather turned grim half an hour into the afternoon session. Stumps were called early with England’s scorecard in a sorry state at 116/6.

The most poignant of the five dismissals in the morning session was that of Ben Stokes, who charged out to Nortje on the second ball he faced but would later fall to the express quick at the stroke of Lunch. It was a moment that summed up South Africa’s penetrative discipline and England’s gung-ho approach rather well. The Proteas’ bowling was as good as the cricket predictions on Crictips.

In favourable bowling conditions, South Africa inserted England in, their decision perhaps influences as much by the conditions as by England’s tendency to hunt down anything in their sight in the past few months. And Dean Elgar’s move paid rich dividends when Kagiso Rabada got Alex Lees to edge one behind the wicket.

After taking out the left-hander with a delivery that held its line from over-the-wicket, Rabada had Zak Crawley nicking low to slip, having troubled him with seam, swing and bounce all through his brief stay at the crease.

The morning for England turned from bad to worse when both Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow departed in quick succession. Root was ruled lbw against Marco Jansen while Jonny Bairstow, on the other hand, was castled by a full and fast ball from Anrich Nortje, who took his time to get acclimatized to the Lord’s slope but finished with three wickets by the end of day’s play.

Nortje’s second victim was Stokes as he squared the England captain from round the wicket and elicited an edge to third slip. For Foakes on the other side of Lunch, an in-ducker was lethal enough to sneak through. The saving grace for the hosts was Ollie Pope who scored a fluent 61* off only 87 balls, putting away anything too full or too short. He got to his fifty, his eighth in Tests, off 69 balls and will be instrumental to England’s chances going into the second day.