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Cook stands firm after de Kock century takes South Africa to 475

Wicketkeeper-batsman scores his maiden Test century before Kagiso Rabada strikes twice to leave England at 138/2

Cook stands firm after de Kock century takes South Africa to 475 - Cricket News
Alistair Cook in action.
While the stands on Saturday, the second day of the fourth Test between South Africa and England, had a Twenty20 feel to it, the action out in the middle was distinctly old school. There was the odd flurry of runs as South Africa advanced its score to 475 all out, but once England took to the crease around 45 minutes before the tea interval, the game went into a holding pattern. Denied the regular injection of energy that home wickets could bring, the crowd gradually dissipated.
If England sealed the series with a dramatic slapdash win at the Wanderers last Saturday, South Africa knows that a consolation victory here would come through a lot of hard work. Midway through the final session, with England easing to 78 for 1, the game’s 11 wickets had come at a cost of more than 50 runs apiece, showing just how consistent the pitch had played. But then there was some insight into what is expected in the coming days when Nick Compton went back to a short Kagiso Rabada ball, only for it to shoot straight through and hit him on the lower shin, trapping him lbw for 19.
England did not suffer any further setbacks and went to stumps on a solid 138 for 2, with Alastair Cook returning to form with 67 not out and Joe Root unbeaten on 31, but tougher tasks lie ahead as the pitch bakes and the hardened indentations bring uncertainty.

South Africa can feel that it fully deserves the upper hand, mostly for the manner in which they bowled. They relentlessly targeted the stumps, giving itself the best chance of taking advantage of inconsistent bounce but also ensuring that England’s total was kept in check. Rabada claimed both wickets to fall, with Alex Hales failing again when he sliced a drive to point, but the fast bowler was backed up superbly by Kyle Abbott, Morne Morkel and Dane Piedt, who all went for well under three runs per over.
This was in direct contrast to England, which struggled to contain South Africa for much of its innings, dropped or missed four catching opportunities, and allowed the host to recover from 273 for 5. The hero for South Africa on Saturday was Quinton de Kock, who scored his maiden Test century and showed that he could be the cavalier wicketkeeper-batsman that every team desires at No. 7.
De Kock not only took the attack to the English bowlers, but he managed the tail superbly, adding 50 with Abbott at a run a ball after Temba Bavuma and Rabada had fallen early in the day, and then putting on 82 for the ninth wicket with Piedt. He reached his fifty in 68 balls, but needed just 36 for his second fifty, and finished unbeaten on a run-a-ball 129.
It was no surprise that Ben Stokes was the one to break the various partnerships, taking the last three wickets to finish with 4 for 86. He will be the man to watch if he gets to the crease on Sunday, as the one player who could turn the game if the surface remains friendly enough to the batsmen.

Please click here to review the match in full in the ICC Match Centre