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Day 2 report: England and South Africa both revealed their brittle batting lineups in the first Test on Friday.
England's appear to be the more delicate, though, after the tourists collapsed from 142-3 to 181 all out in their first innings, and South Africa had a 175-run lead by the end of Day 2 on a tricky but not yet treacherous pitch at SuperSport Park in Centurion.
South Africa were 72-4 at stumps in their second innings to trudge ahead, but not in a convincing manner. Still, the Proteas' advantage is significant on a pitch that almost always favors fast bowlers.
Captain Joe Root (29), Joe Denly (50) and Ben Stokes (35) had showed signs of digging England out of the early hole of 15-2 in the tourists' first innings of the four-Test series. But their fightback was curtailed. Denly's exit soon after registering his half-century instigated the big collapse and England lost 7-39 in just under 16 overs.
South Africa fast bowlers Vernon Philander, who had superb figures of 4-16, and Kagiso Rabada (3-68) made early inroads and also wrapped up the tail. In between, South Africa were relieved that inexperienced change bowlers Dwaine Pretorius (1-23), who is on debut, and Anrich Nortje (2-47) were able to hold their own.
Arriving at 70-3, star all-rounder Stokes appeared ready to inspire England's fightback when he swatted spinner Keshav Maharaj for consecutive sixes over the midwicket boundary and into a group of England supporters.
Nortje made sure it didn't happen when he came round the wicket and forced an outside edge from Stokes to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock. Stokes let out a cry of frustration as he headed to the dressing room.
Stokes fell after seemingly playing himself in — a trend of this Test — and England went on to concede a 103-run first innings lead. That came after England started the day in positive fashion by quickly taking the last South African wicket it needed to restrict the home team to 284 in their first innings.
The fast bowlers were dominant early, when Broad finished off the South Africans first time round. He and Sam Curran returned identical figures of 4-58, the 21-year-old Curran's best in Test cricket.
England's early advantage disappeared when it came to batting as Philander and Rabada zoned in on the English top order.
Rory Burns edged Philander behind to de Kock, who went on to equal the South African record of six catches for a keeper in an innings. That's one off the world record.
Rabada, having been hit for four through midwicket by Dom Sibley, responded aggressively with a fast, rearing delivery next up that nicked the edge of Sibley's bat and flew through to de Kock.
Rabada was bowling fast — he pinged Root square on the helmet with one bouncer — and Philander didn't concede a run off his first five overs. The South African new-ball pair displayed a mix of unnerving aggression and unerring accuracy.
Denly, after being dropped when he was on 0, was the best in combating that and stoked some pretty cover drives in his nine fours and third straight score of 50 or more on the tour.
When he inside-edged Pretorius for another catch for de Kock, England let it slip completely.
Denly, Jonny Bairstow (1) and Stokes went in the space of four overs and England's last four wickets also went down in a rapid four-over spell.
South Africa followed England's example with a shaky start to their second innings to make it 15 wickets falling on the day.
Aiden Markram was out lbw to James Anderson for 2, Zubayr Hamza went to Broad for 4 and Dean Elgar was out for 22 with an inside edge to Archer (2-37).
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was a contender for the most careless dismissal of the day. Having already hit three fours and a six with his team under pressure, he went down on one knee and tried to hammer Archer's delivery over the square leg boundary. Instead, he was caught on the boundary by Curran and South Africa had to send in nightwatchman Nortje to slow things down.
He made it to the close with Rassie van der Dussen, another South African on debut, who was 17 not out.
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