England skipper Ben Stokes and wicket-keeper-batter Ben Foakes slammed centuries as the hosts took control on the second day of the second Test against South Africa at Old Trafford on Friday.
Coming back strongly after an innings defeat in the opening Test at Lord’s, Stokes scored a 163-ball 103, while Foakes was more guarded in his approach, notching up an unbeaten 113 off 217 deliveries, as the duo guided England to 415/9 declared in reply to the Proteas’ 151 all out in the first innings.
Fighting with their backs to the wall, Dean Elgar’s side had reached 23 without loss in nine overs, still 241 runs in arrears.
Earlier, South Africa made a brilliant start to the day by getting rid of the two set batters, Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow, in the morning session. However, that was the only joy for the Proteas on the day as the rest of it was dominated by England.
Bairstow was the first to depart just one run short of a well-deserved fifty. The in-form batter had no answer to the pace and reverse-swing of Anrich Nortje and only managed to edge to the first slip. Nortje made it two wickets in two overs by dismissing Crawley who edged it to the gloves of Kyle Verreynne, according to ICC.
England were in a difficult situation having lost half their side for 147. However, captain Stokes and Foakes held the fort for the hosts and counter-attacked their way out of trouble.
They took the attack to Kagiso Rabada and Simon Harmer in consecutive overs with four boundaries, including a six from Stokes off the spinner. The pair thereafter mixed caution with aggression smartly and took England safely to lunch at 212/5 with a healthy lead of 61 runs.
The sixth-wicket partnership continued, with Stokes and Foakes opting to take the defensive route to avoid giving away wickets after the break. The skipper broke free with a six to get to his fifty and continued to milk runs with ease. Foakes was happy to play second fiddle as the partnership surpassed the 100-run mark.
Stokes converted his half-century into a hundred, his first the full-time Test captain. He fell soon trying to smash the ball to the boundary but left the team with the lead of close to 200.
Stuart Broad played an entertaining innings studded with boundaries before being stumped off the bowling of Harmer for a 14-ball 21. Batting in his 80s, Foakes found the support of Ollie Robinson who got stuck at one end as the wicket-keeper batter got to the second Test ton of his career and the first one at home.
England declared at the fall of Jack Leach’s wicket with a lead of 264 runs.
Put in to bat again, South Africa had to see off a tricky spell of nine overs before stumps. James Anderson troubled Sarel Erwee with a couple of lbw shouts but the Proteas opener survived, including an unsuccessful England review.
Elgar and Erwee managed to bat South Africa to safety without losing any wickets but will have a huge task on their hands on Saturday, still trailing by 241 runs.
Brief scores: South Africa 151 and 23 without loss in 9 overs vs England 415/9 declared in 106.4 overs (Jonny Bairstow 49, Ben Stokes 103, Ben Foakes 113 not out; Anrich Nortje 3/82).
(inputs from IANS)