England wrestle back control of the Test series against South Africa

Then, with only the third delivery of South Africa's reply from his own end, England's leading Test wicket-taker produced the ideal combination of full-length swing to have Dean Elgar lbw for a third-ball duck.

De Bruyn edged and Keaton Jennings could not hang onto a leaping effort in the gully off Anderson and then de Kock was spilled at slip by Stokes off Moeen.

That would bring Duanne Olivier back into contention, after being dropped following South Africa's second-Test success at Trent Bridge in order to accommodate the return at The Oval of Kagiso Rabada from his one-match ban.

Jennings has found life particularly tough during the ongoing Test series at home to his native South Africa, with two ducks in six innings.

The 25-year-old says he was prepared for the late call-up following the injuries to Chris Morris and Vernon Philander, and has been preparing and practising like he was going to play throughout the week. Maharaj, who would occupy the Brian Statham End all afternoon and most of the evening, had Cook caught behind for 46.

Adding 102 runs to their overnight 260-6 and once again destroying the South Africa batting made it an excellent day for England, but it could have been even better if they had taken just some of the hard chances that came their way.

Nonetheless Morkel and Rabada are not a bad pairing and in his first over alone Morkel beat Cook's bat three times. But, as a testing morning session under slate-grey skies gave way to ideal sun-kissed batting conditions in the afternoon, England's recent propensity to squander solid positions with reckless intent threatened once again to destabilise their series prospects. "It is a test of character and skill". His most productive scoring area, unusually for the first morning of a Test match, was straight down the ground, where he twice placed fractionally overpitched deliveries from Morkel and Olivier with dead-eyed timing.

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England captain Joe Root is eyeing victory in his first series since taking charge, and England have a chance at their first series win at home over South Africa since 1998.

That didn't happen as in the penultimate over before tea Morkel drew the edge off Malan and he was caught at second slip by Faf du Plessis for 18.

De Kock looked to have erred badly when he allowed Root a life on 40, curiously declining to move when an edge sailed comfortably past him, but it cost his side just 12 runs. Cook was gone for 46 from 103 balls, an innings that nearly precisely represented both his career average (46.18) and strike rate (46.77).

Stokes had put on 43 alongside Root and did the heavy lifting in a stand of 65 as he and Jonny Bairstow battled the second new ball.

All of which might mean the series‚ as far as SA are concerned‚ could finish down the drain.

Bairstow finished on 33 off 72 balls, which included four boundaries, while Roland-Jones has yet to face a single ball.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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