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Ben Stokes led England to first-innings lead over South Africa in 2nd Test

  • England lead South Africa by 61 runs at lunch in the second Test at Old Trafford.
  • Anrich Nortje takes two wickets in the first over for three runs in seven balls.
  • England captain Ben Stokes is unbeaten on 34, and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes is 33 not out.

After Proteas fast bowler Anrich Nortje got two wickets in the first over of the second Test on Friday at Old Trafford, England captain Ben Stokes took charge and led his team to a first-innings lead over South Africa.

At lunch on the second day, the home team was ahead by 61 runs over the visitors’ first-inning score of 151.

Left-handed batsman Ben Stokes was not out at 34, and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes was also not out at 33. Their unbroken sixth-wicket partnership was worth 61 runs so far as England tried to tie the three-match series at 1-1 after losing the first Test at Lord’s by an innings and 12 runs.

After express quick Nortje took out overnight batsmen Jonny Bairstow and Zak Crawley with two wickets for three runs in seven balls, which was the highlight of a spell of 2-13 in five overs, England was still behind.

The Proteas captain, Dean Elgar, made a bad decision by choosing to bat first when it was cloudy. When play resumed, England was 111-3 and 40 runs behind. James Anderson had taken 3-32 on his home ground in Lancashire, and seamer Stuart Broad had taken 3-37.

Bairstow, who was not out, was on 38 while opener Crawley, who was having trouble but showed a lot of determination and good technique, was not out.

The sunny sky over Old Trafford suggested that it would be a good day to bat, but Kagiso Rabada’s first ball of the day, which came in late, just missed Bairstow’s off stump after the batsman left the crease on purpose.

On 24, Crawley got lucky when, after trying to hit Nortje on the leg side, a leading edge looped over point.

Nortje’s fast pace was too much for Bairstow, who was out for 49 when he edged a reverse-swinging ball to first slip, where Sarel Erwee grabbed it at the first try. This was the end of a 91-run partnership between Crawley and Bairstow.

Now, England was down to 134-4, and the score went up to 147-5 when the impressive Nortje bowled a great ball that moved a bit off the seam and hit Crawley’s outside edge on its way to Verreynne. The 24-year-old Kent right-hander was out for a slow 38 runs off 101 balls.

South Africa almost had to bat first after winning the toss because they brought back Simon Harmer as a second spinner in case the pitch at Old Trafford turned more as the game went on.

But on Friday, wicketkeeper Ben Foakes hit the off-spinner’s first delivery, a full toss, through the covers for four, and three balls later, Stokes swept him for six.

There was a worrying sign for England, though. On 16, Stokes stopped quickly at the end of a run because his left knee, which has been giving him trouble for a long time, buckled. He was treated during the drinks break, though, so he was able to keep batting.

Foakes was given out lbw on 28 when left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj’s first ball pitched outside leg stump. This was confirmed by Foakes’ review, which was done just before lunch on Friday.

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