Alastair Cook raises his bat after completing his 47th Test fifty on Day 2 © Getty Images
Alastair Cook raises his bat after completing his 47th Test fifty on Day 2 © Getty Images

Alastair Cook and Joe Root helped England consolidate after losing an early wicket against South Africa on Day Two of the fourth and final Test at Centurion. Cook and Root were batting on 67 and 31 off 142 and 68 deliveries respectively, having added 60 runs for the third wicket so far as England reached a score of 138 for two at the close of play, trailing South Africa by another 337 runs. It was a good fightback from the visitors with the bat, with captain Cook bringing up his 47th Test fifty, which is also his first in this series. Earlier, South Africa were bowled out for a challenging total of 475, with wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock posting his maiden Test century and ultimately remaining unbeaten on 129 off 128 deliveries, the highest score in the innings. SCORECARD: South Africa vs England 2015-16, 4th Test at Centurion, Day 2

Alex Hales disappointed with the bat yet again after getting off to a good start, racing to 15 at a strike-rate of over 100 before getting caught by Dane Piedt at point off a mishit. England lost their first wicket with 22 runs on board, and England needed Cook and Compton to consolidate the innings thereafter if they were to rise up to the challenge offered by South Africa. The pair added 56 runs for the second wicket, with Cook beginning to execute strokes with finesse during this stage. Compton played a supportive innings at the other end, trudging towards a score of 19 before getting trapped lbw off a short delivery from Rabada that stayed low, hitting his right pad at shin height. UPDATES: South Africa vs England 2015-16, 4th Test at Centurion, Day 2

Cook and Root then batted responsibly throughout the remainder of the session, with the former having smashed 10 boundaries so far in his innings. The England skipper was especially ruthless against Rabada, hammering half of those fours off the young pacer who took both the English wickets of the day, and is currently another 50 runs away from creating history by becoming the first English batsman to complete 10,000 Test runs. Root, on the other hand, looks set to bring up his fourth 50-plus score of the series.

The day began with Temba Bavuma and de Kock walking out to bat with the hosts resuming from their overnight score of 329 for five. Bavuma had played an exquisite set of strokes on the previous day, and was looking set for another big score on the second day. His stay at the crease ultimately came to an end as he nicked a length delivery from Stuart Broad to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, departing for a 60-ball 35. Kagiso Rabada was then trapped lbw for a golden duck by James Anderson, as South Africa lost two wickets within a space of a few deliveries. The prospect of a 400-plus score suddenly looked bleak.

De Kock however, remained unfazed despite the dismissals, and continue to plunder the opposition attack with well-timed strokes, most of which were laced with a touch of boldness. He found valuable support at the other end from both Kyle Abbott (16 off 33) and Dane Piedt (19 off 104), forming partnerships worth 50 and 82 runs respectively to guide the South Africans past the 450-run mark. While Abbott played a few lofted shots of his own, Piedt frustrated the English bowlers with his stonewalling approach, scoring at a strike-rate of less than 20.

De Kock’s patience and spirit was eventually rewarded, with the wicketkeeper batsman reaching the three-figure mark for the first time in his Test career. He remained unbeaten on 129 off 128 deliveries as Morne Morkel was the last South African dismissed, with Ben Stokes taking his fourth wicket after conceding 86 runs.

Brief scores:

South Africa 475 (Stephen Cook 115, Hashim Amla 109, Temba Bavuma 35, Quinton de Kock 129*; Ben Stokes 4 for 86) lead England 138 for 2 (Alastair Cook 67*, Joe Root 31*; Kagiso Rabada 2 for 55) by 337 runs.

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(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, travelling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)