Viljoen makes his mark as England stumble in reply

South Africa 313 (Elgar 46, Stokes 3-53) v England
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Alex Hales fell early when he edged Kagiso Rabada to slip © Getty Images

Hardus Viljoen made a memorable entrance to Test cricket when he claimed the scalp of England’s captain Alastair Cook with his first delivery – and on his home turf at The Wanderers. The achievement was quite something, even if the delivery itself was unexceptional, a loosener down the leg side which Cook nibbled at, for wicketkeeper Dane Vilas, making his first appearance in a home Test, to take a diving catch.

Viljoen came with a big billing – the wild bull in the Bull Ring. In his two exploratory overs before lunch, he did not quite crank the pace up to the 150kph-plus of which he has been deemed capable, but he was enough of an unknown quantity for Cook, a habitual wafter down the leg side, to fall once again in a manner that has troubled him since the tour of the UAE in November.

To know how fast Viljoen really bowls, it might be best not to rely on a speed gun that, to judge by its inconsistent readings, had been found in a Christmas cracker.

If the morning’s headline went to Viljoen, much of the skill of the session rested with Kagiso Rabada. He bowled superbly in a morning spell of 6-3-7-1, picking off Alex Hales by exposing a lack of footwork with one that left him slightly. Hales’ naïve drive ended up in the hands of second slip.

Rabada repeatedly left the right-hander on a pitch that had quickened noticeably since the first day, leaving England with a challenge ahead to combat a quartet of South Africa fast bowlers. South Africa believe that a change of captain, in AB de Villiers, will bring a change of fortune as they seek to peg back a 1-0 deficit in the series.

As Rabada passed Nick Compton’s outside edge on several occasions, suggestions that he was exploring a brief spell in English county cricket should have coaches scrambling to find out more.

Earlier, South Africa had been dismissed for 313 in their first innings, after England had been frustrated by yet more resistance from a lower order that added a further 46 runs to their overnight 267 for 7.

From a precarious 225 for 7, South Africa’s last three wickets amassed a grand total of 88 runs in 25 overs. James Anderson was removed from the attack by umpire Aleem Dar for running on the pitch – one infringement the previous night, two this morning – but his replacement Ben Stokes immediately brought the innings to a halt when he had Morne Morkel caught at slip.

England’s fightback on the first day had reduced South Africa to 235 for 7 by the advent of the second new ball, but Chris Morris and Kagiso Rabada had added 32 runs in the final eight overs to take the lustre off by the close.

A night’s rest, though, had put a zip back in England’s step. Broad and Anderson were restored as England’s go-to pair – Steven Finn had taken the second new ball, in recognition of his own good day and Broad’s fatigue – but the runs kept flowing.

England could hardly afford further merriment. They broke through in the third over of the day, Morris beaten on the drive by Broad and Jonny Bairstow holding the edge. Rabada followed to Anderson in the following over in identical fashion, a relief for the bowler who has yet to make an impression on the series after missing the first Test in Cape Town because of injury. Another 32 runs, though, spilled from the last pair.

Bairstow equalled the record for catches in a Test innings at The Wanderers, a sizeable list also including another former England keeper Jack Russell. A share of the world record eluded him, though, when he failed to hold a fast but takeable catch above his head when Morkel slashed at Anderson.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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