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Elgar leads fightback after crucial Broad strikes

Morkel's four-for keeps England to 303, but early wickets hurt South Africa as it ends second day at 137 for 4

Elgar leads fightback after crucial Broad strikes - Cricket News
Another day of intriguing cut and thrust closed with England in the ascendancy thanks to Stuart Broad’s three wickets. Although South Africa could be pleased with its morning’s work in bowling England out for 303 on a pitch that was offering little, Broad had the two big guns, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, caught behind.

Dean Elgar’s gritty 67 not out went some way to reassuring the home side, but it will have some work to do on the third day after closing Sunday (December 27) on 137 for 4, with Temba Bavuma unbeaten on 10. While the deficit of 166 is not overly intimidating, with inconsistent bounce already becoming a factor, South Africa will need a decent lead to negate the fact that it will have to bat last. With Amla and de Villiers back in the hut, the impetus falls on the other batsmen. 

In the morning, Morne Morkel’s three-wicket burst changed the course of the England innings, which resumed on 179 for 4. Although Dale Steyn found a hint of reverse swing at the start of the day, the pitch continued to offer little and the first wicket came through an erroneous stroke from Ben Stokes, who tried to pull a Morkel delivery from outside off stump and got a looping edge to gully. 

After Nick Compton had taken advantage of the new ball’s hardness to move from 70 to 85 in just 19 deliveries with a succession of boundaries off Steyn, Morkel induced a pull shot that brought a feather through to the wicketkeeper. Compton departed after nearly six and a half hours of resistance, and opened up an end.

In his next over, Morkel’s improved length drew an edge from Moeen Ali and trapped Chris Woakes lbw from successive deliveries, giving him a three-over spell that brought three wickets for seven runs and final figures of 4 for 76. 

Kyle Abbott had Jonny Bairstow (41) edge to second slip where Dean Elgar took a good diving catch, and in no time, England had lost four wickets for 20 runs. A last-wicket stand of 36 between Steven Finn and Broad, who finished unbeaten on a run-a-ball 32, provided some valuable late runs. 

Steyn finished with figures of 4 for 70, and overtook Curtly Ambrose on the list of highest wicket-takers in Test cricket. His 406 dismissals put him 12th, and he needs just 12 more to move into the top ten.

South Africa had taken the extra half-hour to finish off the innings, and six wickets in a morning session spanning nearly three hours was a good return. But that positivity was wiped out with the second ball of the reply when Stiaan van Zyl shouldered arms to a Broad delivery and was bowled. 

Amla was dropped on two soon after, but the cost was minimal. Broad steamed in from the other end and a slight feather gave Bairstow an easy chance.

From 14 for 2, South Africa was able to get back in front, thanks to de Villiers’s 49 in an 86-run stand with Elgar. England turned to Moeen Ali as early as the tenth over, but de Villiers was soon reverse-sweeping. Both batsmen were happy to hit the spinner back over his head for boundaries thereafter.

England finally had de Villiers towards the end of a long Broad spell when he found just a hint of movement away and Bairstow did the rest. And when Faf du Plessis was bowled by an Ali delivery, Elgar knuckled down for the remaining 12 overs.
While Broad was the chief threat for England with his 3 for 16 in 11 overs, Chris Woakes threatened occasionally and held up an end well, and Finn will become increasingly difficult to deal with in the coming days as the bounce – or lack thereof – puts doubt in the batsmen’s minds.

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