Ben Stokes leads England fightback but South Africa on top at Lord’s

South Africa ended day two of the first Test at Lord’s with a healthy lead of 124 despite the best efforts of England captain Ben Stokes, who took two wickets in seven balls and claimed a third scalp late on to help his side fight back.

Sarel Erwee threatened to take the opener of the three-match series away from the hosts with a well-crafted fifty after sharing 85 for the first wicket with Proteas skipper Dean Elgar.

Erwee had made 73 when he was wrapped on his right glove by Stokes, who adopted the role of enforcer during the evening session despite appearing to be struggling with his left knee.

During a devilish spell from the Pavilion End, Stokes also trapped Rassie van der Dussen in front with South Africa slumping from 187 for three to 210 for six.

Stuart Broad and Jack Leach chipped in to add to earlier wickets for James Anderson and Matthew Potts before tea but the tourists regrouped to close on 289 for seven to hold the upper hand.

Kagiso Rabada had been the key figure at the start of day two with the scalp of Ollie Pope crucial in dismissing England for 165 inside an hour.

The hosts resumed on 116 for six and all eyes were on Pope but he failed to make the most of a life from the sixth ball of the morning.

Ollie Pope
England’s Ollie Pope reacts after losing his wicket (Adam Davy/PA)

Pope edged Rabada to Erwee, who in comical fashion spilled the first chance, almost clung onto the second before he could not gather at the third attempt while falling over.

England’s number three soon played on after adding just 12 to his overnight 61 not out and despite some positivity from Broad and Leach, who made 15 each and with it the joint-third highest score of the hosts’ total, Rabada got the former with a slower ball and dismissed Anderson lbw for a golden duck to finish with five for 52, which put his name on the Lord’s honours board.

It was then over to the Proteas batters and Erwee, in only his fifth Test, had to overcome a couple of nervy moments against Anderson before lunch.

Two drives to the boundary in quick succession ensured Erwee got the afternoon session under way in confident fashion before he turned his focus to pinching singles and twos while Stokes kept an attacking field of four slips.

Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes celebrates after taking the wicket of South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen (Adam Davy/PA)

Erwee reached his half-century off 89 balls when he guided the ball through cover for four off Broad, but had lost opening partner Dean Elgar by that point in unfortunate circumstances.

Elgar was three away from fifty when despite smothering Anderson’s delivery, the ball ricocheted off his elbow guard and rolled back onto the stumps with the bails dislodged to end the 85-run partnership for the first wicket.

Potts bounced back from an initial expensive spell to end Keegan Petersen’s breezy knock of 24, but England still required some magic with the Proteas on 158 for two at tea.

Leach was the first to provide it with Aiden Markram deceived by a flighted ball, which kissed the outside edge and Ben Foakes did the rest behind the stumps.

England were still firmly behind the eight-ball until Stokes pushed through the pain barrier in a stunning spell of two for 14 off five overs.

The all-rounder cut short his first stint after seemingly struggling with his left knee but elected himself to bounce his team out of trouble.

Stokes roughed up Erwee, who gloved up in the air for Foakes to bring his fine knock of 73 to an end before Van der Dussen went lbw.

When Broad produced a beauty to take Kyle Verreynne’s edge for his 100th Test wicket at Lord’s, South Africa had lost three batters for 23 runs in eight overs.

Marco Jansen (41 not out) and Keshav Maharaj steadied the ship with a flurry of boundaries in an entertaining stand of 72, but the latter went for 41 to another bouncer by Stokes, who again attempted to drag his side out of a hole.