Cook leads England reply

Pretoria, January 23

Alastair Cook posted his first half-century of the series with an unbeaten 67 as England closed day two of the final Test on 138-2, still 337 runs behind South Africa at Centurion Park on Saturday.

Cook and Joe Root (31 not out) added 60 for the third wicket as England, who have won the series, look to get close to the hosts’ first-innings total of 475 on a pitch starting to show variable bounce. Cook is 50 short of becoming the first England batsman to reach 10,000 Test runs.

The touring side had lost opener Alex Hales (15) cheaply before tea when he guided a wide delivery from Kagiso Rabada to Dane Piedt at point for another soft dismissal. Nick Compton (19) became Rabada’s second victim when he fell lbw to a delivery that never got more than a foot off the ground from good length, a sign of the wear in the pitch.

Proteas wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock earlier reached his maiden Test century with a fluent unbeaten 129 from 128 balls before running out of partners as the home side posted a sizeable total. De Kock smashed 17 fours and two sixes in a showcase of his rich potential that was a brutal attack on the bowling.