South Africa v England: Sam Curran takes 4-57 on opening day of first Test

Joe Root and Sam Curran
Sam Curran's (right) best Test figures are 4-74 against India in 2018
First Test, Supersport Park, Centurion (day one of five):
South Africa 277-9: De Kock 95, Curran 4-57, Broad 3-52
England: Yet to bat
Scorecard

Sam Curran starred with the ball as England made a promising start against South Africa on the opening day of the first Test in Centurion.

All-rounder Curran impressed with 4-57 as South Africa, asked to bat first, reached 277-9 at the close.

The hosts slipped to 111-5 after some indifferent batting but mounted a recovery through an entertaining 95 from Quinton de Kock.

De Kock and debutant Dwaine Pretorius' 87-run stand frustrated England before Curran and Stuart Broad (3-52) struck in the evening session.

While England were not at their best with the ball, they took advantage of some poor shots from the South Africa top order.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes had two lengthy spells off the field because of dehydration and did not bowl in the day.

Jonny Bairstow, not initially a part of the squad for the four-Test series, was recalled in place of Ollie Pope, who is one of three players struggling with illness in South Africa.

Curran impresses on hot opening day

Curran has struggled outside of England - he averages 41.75 overseas compared to 29.00 at home - but he was the pick of England's bowlers with his late movement.

He pushed the ball across the South Africa batsmen, taking advantage of their defensive frailties, and beat the edge more often than any other bowler.

Each time he was introduced into the attack he took a wicket, the highlight being an off-stump delivery that drew a defensive push from De Kock on 95 and sent an edge through to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.

Bowling first was a bold call from England captain Joe Root. James Anderson is playing his first Test in four months, both Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad were ill in the build-up to the Test and Stokes has struggled to bowl with a long-standing knee problem.

Archer bowled with pace at times but was inconsistent, while Anderson was rusty after a lengthy spell out with a calf injury and Broad ended the day looking heavy-legged after bowling accurately in sapping temperatures.

With no frontline spinner - Jack Leach was unavailable for selection due to illness - both Root and Joe Denly bowled a few overs, but England will hope their strike bowlers have enough energy to finish the innings quickly on Friday.

De Kock halts South Africa slide

Quinton de Kock
Quinton de Kock made his maiden Test century against England at Centurion in 2016

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said he would have batted had the toss gone his way but the hosts made an inauspicious start.

Opener Dean Elgar fell to the first ball of the day, nicking a leg-side delivery from Anderson, playing in his 150th Test, to Buttler, before Aiden Markram flicked Curran to short mid-wicket.

Despite England's bowlers not being at their best, Du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen were caught behind playing away from their body before De Kock and debutant Pretorius mounted a partnership.

De Kock, known as an aggressive batsmen, took 12 runs off an over from Curran, but his big hitting almost cost him when he tried to hit Root down the ground and only just avoided being caught at mid-on.

His half-century came from just 45 balls with nine fours - his hard hands allowing him to hit the pace bowlers over the top of the slips - while he was strong square of the wicket.

He was well supported by all-rounder Pretorius, who counter-attacked more successfully against Root with a flat six, but Curran found the edge of Pretorius' bat to end the sixth-wicket stand.

Although there was some awkward bounce, this is a good batting pitch - and South Africa may be left to rue their mixed start with the bat.

'There will be some creaking limbs' - what they said

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: "It will be interesting to see how England come back tomorrow - there will be some creaking limbs.

"It has been a really fascinating day's cricket. It is perhaps a bit too early too tell if this is a good score."

England seamer Sam Curran on Sky Sports: "De Kock plays his natural game. We let him get off the hook a little bit. Fair play to him - and he got a good score.

"It's a pretty good wicket and fast-scoring outfield. Hopefully our batters can bat big and put overs in their legs. There is going to be cracks. Hopefully we can bat big first innings and put them under pressure."

England and Middlesex bowler Steven Finn on The Cricket Social: "Tomorrow will give us an indication of where we are up to and what exactly is happening.

"The wickets in the last session have pegged South Africa back and brought it to a more even game."

Ex-England batsman Michael Carberry on The Cricket Social: "It's great to see Anderson back. His first spell was a bit rusty, and when he has got the ball in the right area he has looked threatening. It has been a decent comeback."

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