Faf du Plessis described himself as a “terrible tosser” when he lost his sixth toss in a row on a flat looking wicket at Port Elizabeth. Obviously Root had little hesitation when electing to bat as he confirmed that Wood was coming in for the injured Anderson.
England’s relatively inexperienced opening pair got England off to a good start on what instantly looked a batting day even if the pitch was on the slow side. Dom Sibley was appearing to be taking off from where he left in Cape Town as the partnership went past fifty.
Due to the slowness off the pitch and the minimal movement through the air South Africa turned to bowling straight at the stumps with a packed off-side field. This piece of captaincy paid off when both openers clipped balls to fielders behind square on the leg-side after making starts. For du Plessis this made up for not starting with Rabada as one of his new ball bowlers which was a gamble that didn’t pay off.
With England’s run rate slowing down to a crawl Denly was given out LBW on review having trapped the ball between bat and pad in front of all three. Rabada bowled Root with one that had a suspicion it may have kept low on him, not that Rabada cared though as he roared right in the England captain’s face.
The middle overs with the softer ball had definitely gone the hosts way as a first innings repeat of Newlands was on the cards. The new ball however was taken which clearly helped the two batters Stokes and Pope score more freely and they put on fifty as South Africa went wicketless in the final session. England just stole the day with that final partnership as they finished on 224-4.