Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley put on England’s first century opening stand since 2016, but South Africa’s bowlers took four wickets in the evening session as the visitors finished day one on 192/4.
Rain ruined the morning and delayed the toss; when it did happen Faf du Plessis lost it, and Joe Root opted to bat first.
Sibley and Crawley, in particular, looked fluent from the get-go, though Vernon Philander thought he had his first wicket of his final Test, when Sibley was caught at gully. It wasn’t to be the case, however, with the veteran shown to be overstepping.
Crawley advanced to his maiden Test half-century, having shown his class down the ground and through the covers, although he was rattled on the helmet, prompting a lengthy delay as he looked for some replacement headgear. The pair went to tea having accumulated 100.
This is England's first century stand for the opening wicket since December 2016 👀 https://t.co/EzdhWZRf8y— ICC (@ICC) January 24, 2020
South Africa bounced back after the break, however, with both Sibley and Crawley removed in short succession. Sibley glanced down the leg side, while Philander’s movement induced an outside edge from Crawley.
Joe Denly rode his luck as he played expansively, but a prod forward to Dane Paterson resulted in an edge into the cordon that Rassie van der Dussen collected safely to remove England's No.3 for 27 from 35 balls.
Van der Dussen was in the action again in the cordon when the lively Anrich Nortje took advantage of a push forward from Stokes that induced yet another edge.
Ollie Pope and Joe Root got through to the end of play smoothly, ensuring that England ended the day on a stronger note.
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