Second Test: close of play score: (day one): South Africa 309-6
Stuart Broad dragged England back into a game that was getting away from them with the crucial wickets of Quinton De Kock and Hashim Amla shortly after tea on the first day of the second Test.
With Ben Stokes chipping in with the scalps of Faf du Plessis and Temba Bavuma the hosts appeared to have taken control by midway through an elongated final session. But the game swung again in the last hour or so as Chris Morris and Vernon Philander, with his second fifty of the series, prevented England making further inroads with an unbroken stand of 74 that could yet have a crucial affect on the final outcome.
Broad had removed Heino Kuhn shortly after lunch as 11 overs in concert with James Anderson enabled England to keep the brakes on their opponents but South Africa's two most attractive batsman revived them, taking them to 179 for two by tea.
However, the Nottinghamshire pace bowler, returning to the scene of his wonderful career-best performance of eight for 15 against Australia two years ago, struck immediately in his next spell. He ripped out De Kock with the first ball after the interval, the left-hander's intended square chop settling into the hands of Alastair Cook at first slip at the second attempt.
Six overs later, he tempted Amla, who had been pulling on instinct all day – two poorly controlled efforts had previously landed unkindly for two men set deep for the shot – to try the stroke again and this time it dropped neatly into the hands of Mark Wood at long leg. He had made 78 with 11 fours and a six.
Then Stokes returned for a third spell with an ageing ball. He induced from De Plessis an almost negligible glove down the leg-side which was brilliantly snatched one-handed by Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps, before Bavuma feathered an away swinger that he tried to leave, also through to the wicketkeeper.
At that point, with South Africa 235 for six, it looked as if the innings might be wrapped up in the day but England, in their haste to get to the second new ball, allowed Morris and Philander to settle against the spin of Liam Dawson and Moeen Ali. When Anderson, Broad and belatedly, Wood, returned, for a final flourish, their threat was much reduced and Philander, driving and pulling impressively, reached his half-century off 70 balls with nine fours.
Amla, who passed 8,000 Test runs in the morning, was his usual diligent and attractive self after coming in at the early loss of Dean Elgar, watchful defence mixed with back foot drives and clips off the leg. A difficult period followed against an accurate Broad and Anderson straight after the interval during which Heino Kuhn was bowled, but when Root had to rest the pair, the experienced right-hander, in cohorts with the gifted De Kock, stepped on the gas.
He refused to let Dawson settle, launching the left-arm spinner down the ground for six to bring up his 33rd Test fifty while his left-handed partner turned on the style against Mark Wood with a flurry of top-class boundaries
De Kock, who himself late-cut Dawson to the backward point fence then slapped him back over his head for another, was not far behind Amla in reaching his fifty, from 59 balls, and by tea had moved on to 68 from 80.
When Broad dismissed him, however, with Amla soon to follow it was at the start of another fine spell that ultimately brought him figures of three for 47 from 19 overs.
South Africa had made sluggish progress in the morning session after winning the toss and, perhaps surprisingly, opting to bat under cloudy skies and with a tinge of green in the pitch. Root did well to conceal his delight at the decision. The suspended Kagiso Rabada was left on the sidelines with Theunis de Bruyn and JP Duminy as Du Plessis returned as captain, fast bowler Duanne Olivier was given a second Test cap and Morris was drafted in for his all-round skills.
England started the game unchanged from the XI at Lord's, choosing to go in with two spinners again.
Second Test: Tea score (day one): South Africa 179-2
Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock loosened the shackles to hit fifties and put South Africa in a promising position at tea after Stuart Broad, who bowled Heino Kuhn, and James Anderson kept the brakes on the tourists in a tight first 45 minutes after the interval.
Kuhn had not added to his lunchtime score of 34 when he was a little late on one that speared back into him from Broad and took his inside edge on its way to bending back his leg stump.
It was a relief for Broad, who had already wasted England's second review when he thought he had trapped Kuhn leg-before; he was possibly the only person in the ground of that view but his seniority helped convince Joe Root, the captain, that he should ask for a second opinion.
Amla continued to look his usual elegant self although Anderson, getting less swing than early in the morning session but managing his movement much more effectively, still beat him with a couple of beauties outside the off stump. And a couple of top-edged pulls off Broad might, on another day, have landed more kindly for the two men posted behind square in the deep.
Broad and Anderson had bowled 11 overs between them in the afternoon, both only going at just over two an over, when De Kock, promoted to bat at No 4, struck 11 from three balls of Mark Wood's second over of the session – one a stunning clip for four through mid-wicket to a perfectly respectable delivery that shaded into him – to give the tourists some impetus.
Amla followed suit once Liam Dawson joined Wood in the attack, hitting the first spin of the day for a straight six to take him to a half-century – his 33rd in Tests. It came off 93 balls and included six fours as well.
De Kock, timing the ball sweetly, was not too far behind him, notching his own fifty from 59 balls with five fours.
South Africa had made sluggish progress in the morning session after winning the toss and, perhaps surprisingly, opting to bat under cloudy skies. By lunch they had moved to 56 for the loss of Dean Elgar, caught at backward point by Dawson, in 23 overs, which was still enough time for Amla to reach 8,000 runs in Test cricket.
Lunch score: South Africa 56-1 (23 overs)
South Africa made sluggish progress after winning the toss and, perhaps surprisingly, opting to bat on the first morning at Trent Bridge. At least, as rain interrupted the session for 20 minutes, there was time for Hashim Amla to reach 8,000 runs in Test cricket.
Joe Root did well to conceal his delight when Faf du Plessis called correctly and admitted that he would probably have bowled anyway on an overcast day with a tinge of green in the pitch.
With the record of James Anderson and Stuart Broad in Nottingham – they were averaging 19 and 18 respectively before the start – it seemed a brave decision by Du Plessis, who took back the captaincy of the tourists after missing out at Lord's following the birth of his first child.
And when Anderson's first ball swung dramatically down the leg-side to his London stand-in Dean Elgar – it would have been a brute of a delivery to a right-hander – he might have been wondering about its wisdom.
England had named an unchanged side, while South Africa, shorn of the suspended Kagiso Rabada, rang some changes – in personnel and positional. Quinton de Kock, boasting a Test average of just over 50, moved up to No 4, Du Plessis replaced the dropped JP Duminy, Chris Morris, the bowling all-rounder, came in for Theunis de Bruyn while Duanne Olivier, a fast bowler from the same region as Allan Donald, acted as Rabada's proxy.
Heino Kuhn had failed to impress on his debut at Lord's, scoring one and nine, so having to deal with England's opening bowlers in their element was unlikely to have done much for his confidence but he defended determinedly and left well outside off stump. When he hit his first four – straight from an overpitched Anderson delivery – his relief was almost audible.
Elgar, though, never looked comfortable – he jabs at the ball like a boxer rather than stroking it – and when Anderson, having kept the ball tight to his off stump, offered up one fuller and wider, he was drawn into the drive. With his footwork minimal it was inevitable he would spoon the stroke and Liam Dawson took the chance, diving to his right at backward point.
Amla took his time to start with, scoring just two singles in his first 21 balls, but the second of two fours off Wood took him into double figures and past another commendable landmark. By lunch, he had reached 16 and Kuhn, after a crunching back-foot drive for four off Wood to bring up the 50, and an unconvincing pull for another, had advanced to 34.
While all the pacemen bowled economically, the swing had gone out of the ball and Du Plessis' decision wasn't looking so bad after all.