England lose captain Joe Root against South Africa

Joe Root hailed the character of his England side after victory in the third Test at The Oval

It was an even contest on the opening day of the fourth and final Test between England and South Africa at Manchester.

England's assistant coach Paul Farbrace on Keaton Jennings being under threat from Haseeb Hameed: "If you're in the England team there is always, and should always be, someone knocking on the door for your place, whether they're here at the ground breathing down your neck or doing it in the championship". Westley left the ball expertly and in the last half an hour before lunch Du Plessis, as if sensing a long day ahead, employed both Keshav Maharaj, his fast-improving spinner, and Theunis de Bruyn, the dibbly-dobbliest of seamers.

South Africa will sleep easier after Rabada castled Ben Stokes with a brilliant yorker late in the day.

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.

Cook fell just short of a half-century of his own, departing for 46 on a day that started out by offering plenty for the bowlers, before making them work harder as the pitch dried out.

That responsibility will pass to Jonny Bairstow, who is 33 not out, when England resume on Saturday. "I was desperately disappointed not to chalk up another hundred in Test cricket". "It is a test of character and skill". We let ourselves down with the bat in the first innings, and we have been brutally honest about it.

Moeen Ali was to go soon afterwards to Rabada, edging low to second slip on the back foot - and the deserving Morkel picked up his second wicket by bowling Stuart Broad off-stump.




That lower order for England looks so much more risky with Bairstow and Ali coming in where they are. An outside edge saw the ball flick into Quinton De Kock's glove.

England captain Joe Root and Dawid Malan steadied things with a 52-run stand before Malan was caught by South Africa captain Faf du Plessis at second slip off the bowling of Morne Morkel for 18.

He looked painfully uncertain throughout his innings, which ended when Olivier found the edge and he was caught behind for 17. The night in hospital, being on a drip, revitalised me but it all came back up again the next day.

England were rocking a touch before a solid partnership of Stokes and Jonny Bairstow calmed proceedings for Root's men.

A passing shower yesterday morning left the outfield waterlogged although Root insists it is not a concern for his side as he looks to wrap up victory in his first series leading England.

At the other end Kagiso Rabada came close to seeing off Jennings in just four balls, narrowly failing to gather a return catch after the opener contrived to loop a chance off bat and pad.

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