England v South Africa: Ben Stokes top scores on first day at Old Trafford

By Stephan ShemiltBBC Sport at Old Trafford
Fourth Investec Test, Old Trafford, day one
England 260-6 (90 overs): Stokes 58, Root 52, Rabada 2-52
South Africa: Yet to bat
England won toss

Ben Stokes was dismissed late on the first day as England were kept in check by some disciplined South Africa bowling in the final Test.

Stokes was bowled by Kagiso Rabada for 58 in the penultimate over as England closed on 260-6 at Old Trafford.

Joe Root made 52 and Alastair Cook 46, while under-pressure opener Keaton Jennings only managed 17.

The South Africa attack, without Vernon Philander, impressed, with Kagiso Rabada picking up 2-52.

He helped fill the hole left by Philander who, along with Chris Morris, missed out because of a back injury.

On an even-paced surface offering both seam movement and some turn, England may feel they missed the chance to cash in under the Manchester sunshine.

But they could have been in a worse position - a Root edge was missed by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock when the captain was on 44 and Jonny Bairstow needed the third umpire to reprieve him when on only four.

England lead the series 2-1 and are looking for a first home victory over the Proteas since 1998.

Have England missed their chance?

Not only are England chasing a first series win in four, they are also aiming to end an awful streak of losing eight of their past nine final matches in a series.

Here they failed to capitalise when they seemed to be moving into a position of strength, mainly through some loose strokes.

Cook was again in good touch for his 46, only for a drive at left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj to end in the gloves of De Kock.

Root played some classy drives through the off side, but he played across the line to Duanne Olivier to be lbw.

Stokes reprised the discipline that brought him a century in the third Test at The Oval, sharing a stand of 65 with Bairstow, who remains on 33.

However, Stokes was defeated by a searing Rabada yorker with the close in sight that perhaps gave South Africa the slight edge on an even day.

South Africa make light of Philander absence

Philander has been the pick of South Africa's pace bowlers in this series - indeed, since he made his Test debut in 2011, the Proteas have not won a Test away from home when he has not been in the side.

However, in his absence, all of the pace bowlers used the assistance on offer to examine the England batsmen.

Morkel and Rabada both bowled excellent spells from the newly named James Anderson End, the latter having Tom Westley wonderfully caught by De Kock and testing Root when he first arrived at the crease.

Morkel went past the outside edge time and time again, once again unlucky, as he has been throughout the series.

With South Africa a bowler light, Maharaj was required to hold down an end, doing so economically as he found regular turn.

Not only did he account for Cook, but Bairstow could have fallen after a bat-pad went to slip, only for replays to show that the ball did not carry.

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Jennings fails again

Opener Jennings, the 11th man to partner Cook since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012, is in desperate need of a good second-innings return after another low score.

The left-hander played a couple of nice strokes through the off side, only for a familiar poke at Olivier resulting in an edge behind.

Jennings made a century on Test debut but has managed only 109 runs at an average of 15.57 in this series.

Like Jennings, Dawid Malan, playing only his second Test, is looking to establish himself in the England side.

He was guilty of the softest dismissal of the day, with a loose drive at Morkel edged to second slip.

'Questions remain for England' - analysis

Former England captain Michael Vaughan: "The questions we asked before this Test are still not answered.

"With Jennings, yes, it was a good ball, but it's another opportunity missed. Westley looks like a good player but he switched off.

"Malan looks like a firecracker but he got in and gifted his wicket.

"Particularly with Jennings, he will watch and read stuff tomorrow morning which won't be too nice for him.

"You always have to have an eye on whether you see Keaton Jennings walking out at Brisbane in the winter to face Australia's Hazlewood, Bird and Starc in the Ashes."

Joe Root, who posed for selfies before play, brought up 5,000 Test runs during the course of his innings - only India's Sachin Tendulkar and his team-mate Alastair Cook were younger when reaching the milestone
Joe Root, who posed for selfies before play, brought up 5,000 Test runs during his innings - only India's Sachin Tendulkar and his team-mate Alastair Cook were younger when reaching the milestone

Ex-South Africa skipper Graeme Smith: "It's been a hard fought day for both teams.

"It's been a long tour for South Africa, it's been a poor one and they are desperate to get something out of it.

"It's their last chance to salvage something and they've tried hard all day today."


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