THE Standard Bank Proteas produced far and away their best day of their entire England tour to date when they played themselves into a potentially winning position on the second day of the second Test at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Saturday.
In the absence of their suspended champion, Kagiso Rabada, the bowlers produced a superb team effort to dismiss England for 205 runs in one ball short of 52 overs to give their side a lead of 130 runs.
This had been extended to 205 runs by the close of play with Dean Elgar (38 off 63 balls, 6 fours) and Hashim Amla (23 off 45 balls, 5 fours) both well set after an unbroken second-wicket stand of 57.
Jimmy Anderson had given England the perfect start to the day when he claimed the last four South African first innings wickets as only 26 runs were added to the total to give him his seventh five-wicket haul at this venue.
But the Proteas were quickly into their bowling stride, having both the England openers back in the pavilion with only 3 runs on the board.
Joe Root, partnered first by Gary Balance in a third wicket stand of 83 and then by Johnny Bairstow in a fourth wicket stand of 57, launched a calculated counter-attack of sustained brilliance in which he matched Quinton de Kock on the previous day in scoring almost a run a ball.
But, when Root became Morne Morkel’s second victim with the aid of a typical diving catch by De Kock, the England innings fell apart with the last 7 wickets falling for 62 runs.
Morkel and Vernon Philander did the good work up front with two wickets each and then Keshav Maharaj struck two mighty blows with the wickets of Ben Stokes and Bairstow – the latter to probably the best delivery of the match to date that turned past the forward defensive stroke to hit the top of off-stump.
It was a delivery that would have given the Proteas a lot of heart for when England bat in the fourth innings.
Maharaj finished with 3 wickets as did Chris Morris who underlined his all-round credentials by ripping through the tail.