MANCHESTER: Ben Stokes reached his first century since being named England captain and full-time wicketkeeper Ben Foakes also hit triple figures as the hosts established a decisive lead over South Africa in the second Test in Manchester on Friday.
Stokes made 103, with Foakes a best test 113 not having completed his second century at this level when his skipper declared England’s opening innings 415-9, a 264 run lead, after South Africa South was fired for a meager 151.
That left World Test Championship leaders South Africa with nine tricky overs to beat before the end of matchday two at sunny Old Trafford.
But the Proteas, 1-0 in that three-game series after a dominating set and 12-point victory in the first Test at Lord’s, collapsed 23-0 – a 241-point deficit.
Sarel Erwee was 12 not out and South African captain Dean Elgar unbeaten on 11.
Earlier, Stokes and Foakes shared an impressive 173 partnership after meeting with England teetering at 147-5 after a double strike from fast bowler Anrich Nortje.
By recalling Simon Harmer as the second spinner to their attack, in the hope that the Old Trafford ground would offer more spin as the game progressed, South Africa had almost been forced to strike first after have won the draw.
But off-spinner Harmer, a prolific wicket-taker with Essex County, and slow left-arm Keshav Maharaj could only manage three late-order wickets between them for a total of 151 runs in 45.4 overs.
Harmer’s first delivery on Friday, a full draw, was stroked through the covers for four by Foakes and, three balls later, Stokes swept it for six.
Left-handed batsman Stokes, 34, not out at lunch, completed a 50-101 ball when he pitched Harmer for six in classic style.
Stokes entered the 80s with a straight six against Maharaj, before Foakes finished a well-made fifty on 116 balls.
South Africa took the new ball as soon as they could, with England 288-5 from 80 overs, only for Stokes to then look at the next delivery, from Lungi Ngidi, for four.
But the second delivery with the new ball nearly proved Stokes’ loss on 92 when a diving Aiden Markram at extra coverage failed to hold what would have been a spectacular hold on a hard-hit drive.
The versatile Stokes, 98, not out for tea, went into uncharacteristically triple figures when a direct drive from Kagiso Rabada deflected the fast bowler’s shin to take him to a hundred from 158 balls, including six fours and three sixes.
But he fell soon after when a Rabada leading edge was caught well by Elgar’s coaster mid-stroke.
England, however, were still well placed at 320-6, having recovered well in that match from a defeat at Lord’s which marked their first defeat after a run of four successive victories under the new leadership duo of Stokes and England. Coach Brendon McCullum.
And despite all the talk of an aggressive new style of ‘Bazball’, the 31-year-old Stokes’ well-paced innings – his 12th cent in 85 Tests and fourth against South Africa – were also a widely batting triumph. orthodox.
Foakes then added to the Proteas’ woes by hitting his second hundred in 16 Tests when 29-year-old fast bowler Nortje faced a ninth four from 206 balls.
It was all a far cry from a morning session where Nortje, the Proteas’ attacking pick with 3-82 in 20 overs, produced two quick and accurate deliveries to clean up overnight batsmen Jonny Bairstow (49) and Zak Crawley (38) .