England to bat in third South African Test

Ben Stokes acknowledges the Kia Oval crowd after bringing up a brilliant century on Friday

Stokes underlined his prowess as the rarest of all-round talents with his fifth test hundred, reached with two successive sixes, propelling England to a challenging total of 353.

Root's side drew criticism from pundits for the manner of their 340-run second Test defeat at Trent Bridge, which brought the four-match series level at 1-1, as England lost all 20 wickets inside 100 overs, but the Yorkshireman is adamant his team will turn things around.

"The pressure is now on the England batting line-up, but it's worth remembering that South Africa was in that situation after the first Test".

England's top three have struggled to get going in the series, performing well in only the second innings of the first test.

Over 76: England 249-5 (Stokes 58, Bairstow 32) Tidy over from Maharaj with Bairstow scrambling a singleoff the final ball.

Resuming on 21 with England four down, he showed such maturity and skill against different challenges against the old and new ball and with different partners - at times circumspect, at others hostile. However, under gloomy conditions, the home side suffered first blow when Keaton Jennings was dismissed for a nine-ball duck. The score looked a handy one with unsettled weather forecast to remain for the rest of the Test.

For Westley, it was a case of mixed emotions after getting started but failing to kick on.

However, soon after the lunch break Chris Morris struck and removed debutant Westley (25).

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Wood has struggled with injuries throughout his career, which has restricted the 27-year-old fast bowler to just 10 Test matches since making his debut in 2015 against New Zealand, but the England captain did not seem too anxious by the latest setback. The batsman defends one to gully, but this one is along the ground.

Mark Wood and Liam Dawson have both disappointed as well, the former confirmed to be missing out on his starting place, with Root choosing to play debutant Toby Roland-Jones instead. The lasting memory was that we were bowling on the first day and I think England were in a good position and the way we came back the next day to bowl them out for 385, " he recalled.

England went to lunch with Stokes and Moeen Ali (10 not out) at the crease. It was embedded from England Cricket's page.

"I have almost been involved with the club for 50 years and when I joined you would have thought no way was there ever going to be global cricketers coming through the ranks".

Alastair Cook is bereft of the captaincy these days, of course, after his winter resignation. "You've got to have a group of players that are very smart in the middle and one week they play smart cricket and the next they don't".

England were nonetheless beginning to approach a par score.

Westley also paid tribute to his team-mate, saying: "Cooky batted superbly". He got a brilliant 80 and hopefully he can kick on.

"I'll have a look at the wicket tomorrow and decide what is happening then", the skipper said.



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