Ben Stokes led England's charge in the first session    Getty Images
Ben Stokes led England’s charge in the first session Getty Images

England batted with confidence in the morning session of Day Two versus South Africa. Alastair Cook missed out on a deserving hundred, falling for 88, but Ben Stokes led charge with an unbeaten 64. Going to lunch, England have piled up 269 for 6 and will push close to the 350-run mark; a handy score in overcast conditions at The Oval. South Africa, on the other hand, need to get rid of Stokes and run through England’s lower-order after the break.

Day Two resumed with England 171 for 4. Cook and Stokes had already added a 50-run stand and came out with positive intent. However, Cook was unfortunate to fall short of the three-figure mark. He was trapped lbw in the 65th over off Morne Morkel. He bowled a full-length delivery and Cook missed it to hit the pads. The umpire raised his finger in response. Cook went for a review but was adjudged out. The ball had pitched in line and there no evidence of bat involved in the snickometer.

However, Stokes and Bairstow carried on playing their shots and presented full face of the bat. Stokes’ innings has been flawless till now. He has come to the pitch of the ball, played with straight bat and timed his strokes. Bairstow displayed good footwork and has complimented his partner from the other end. The duo added an attacking 75-run stand. However, the new ball did the trick for South Africa. Kagiso Rabada ended Bairstow’s stay as the latter edged one to second slip where Faf du Plessis took a good catch.

South Africa bowled close to the pads. They did not get much assistance with the old ball. However, they have now got an opening in the form of Bairstow. Nonetheless, England bat deep, and the in-form Moeen Ali is at the crease. If they get another vital partnership, South Africa will feel the heat in overcast conditions.

Brief scores:

England 269 for 6 (Alastair Cook 88, Ben Stokes 64*, Jonny Bairstow 36; Vernon Philander 2 for 32, Kagiso Rabada 2 for 60) vs South Africa.