South Africa ended the first day of their Boxing Day Test against England nine wickets down after a keenly fought contest.
England won the toss and elected to bowl, and got the perfect start, with the returning James Anderson, who became the first specialist bowler to reach the milestone of 150 Test caps, strangling Dean Elgar down the leg-side from the day’s very first delivery.
Aiden Markram, Zubayr Hamza, and Faf du Plessis all made starts, but England struck regularly to reduce the Proteas to 111/5 before Quinton de Kock and Dwaine Pretorius stitched together the first meaningful partnership of the day.
De Kock was particularly aggressive, racing along at over a run a ball, though he did have two moments of fortune, both off the bowling of Joe Root. Firstly he skied an attempted loft only for the mishit to fall between the onrushing Jofra Archer and Anderson and then he edged to first slip, only for an umpire review to adjudge that the ball had bounced just before reaching Ben Stokes.
Stokes spent a large part of the day off the field suffering from dehydration, which the England management will hope isn’t another instance of the bug sweeping through their camp. In any case, the man developing a reputation as a mini-Stokes continued to have his say, nicking off both Pretorius and de Kock, the latter removed for 95 off 128 balls, having slowed when nearing his century.
Archer toiled through much of the day before finally getting his reward, nicking off Keshav Maharaj, and Stuart Broad ensured England ended the day on a high, bowling Kagiso Rabada with the second new ball. South Africa went to stumps on 277/9 and will be hoping a few lusty blows can drag them up to 300 on the second morning. England will be aiming to extract a big first innings lead to negate the impact of having to bat last on a sun-baked surface.
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