England tighten screws after Pope, Stokes put SA on the ropes - GulfToday

England tighten screws after Pope, Stokes put SA on the ropes

Ollie Pope

England’s Ollie Pope celebrates after scoring a century against South Africa during play on day two of their third Test at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Friday. Reuters

Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope made centuries to hammer a South Africa team already hit by a ban for their top bowler as England took control on a potentially decisive day of the Test series on Friday.

Stokes made 120, Pope 135 not out for his maiden test century, and England surged to 499-9 declared on the second day of the third test in Port Elizabeth.

South Africa couldn’t safely see out 18 overs at the end and lost Pieter Malan (18) and Zubayr Hamaza (10) to be 60-2 in reply. Spinner Dom Bess took both wickets.

South Africa were way behind -- trailing by 439 runs -- and burdened by the additional blow of fast bowler Kagiso Rabada being banned for the series-deciding fourth and final test in Johannesburg next week.

Rabada’s ban was announced on Friday morning, a punishment for his provocative celebration in the face of England captain Joe Root on the first day of the test at St. George’s Park.

With that news hanging over them, the South Africans appeared completely deflated in the field.

Stokes and Pope took their careful 76-run partnership overnight to an unbroken and flourishing stand of 187 by lunch. They put on a mammoth 203 for the fifth wicket by the time Stokes hit a square drive to be caught by Dean Elgar after lunch and give Dane Paterson a first test wicket on his debut for South Africa.

Stokes lashed 12 fours and two sixes in all as he charged to a ninth test century. Three of those hundreds have come in the last five months and Stokes continued to punish South Africa on this tour. He blitzed 72 off 47 balls, took a record-equaling five catches in an innings, and collected the match-winning wickets in England’s series-tying victory in the second test in Cape Town.

Stokes also had strong support from Pope in Port Elizabeth, and Pope went on to a big century after Stokes’ exit.

Sam Curran added 44 down the order in a half-century stand with Pope, and tailender Wood (42) and Pope added 73 for the ninth wicket as South Africa fell apart.

England’s 499-9 declared was the fourth highest total ever in a test at St. George’s and the second best by a visiting team. Only Australia in 1950 has made a bigger statement at the ground by a touring team.

Associated Press

Brief scores:
South Africa 60 for 2 (Bess 2-12) trail England 499 for 9 dec (Pope 135*, Stokes 117, Maharaj 5-180) by 439 runs

Related articles