Sam Curran shone with the ball as England made a promising start on the opening day of Centurion’s first test against South Africa.
All-rounder Curran impressed as South Africa with 4-57, first asked to bat, reached 277-9 at the end.
After some indifferent batting, the hosts fell to 111-5 but mounted a recovery through Quinton de Kock’s entertaining 95.
The 87-run partnership of De Kock and debutant Dwaine Pretorius frustrated England before the evening session of Curran and Stuart Broad (3-52).
While England weren’t at their best with the ball, some poor shots from the top order of South Africa were taken advantage of.
Due to dehydration, England’s all-rounder Ben Stokes had two long spells off the field and did not bowl during 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 played outside England he averages 41.75 overseas compared to 29.00 at home, but with his late movement he was the best of England’s bowlers.
He pushed the ball through the batsmen of South Africa, taking advantage of their defensive frailties, beating the edge more often than any other bowler.
The highlight was an off-stump delivery that drew a defensive push from De Kock on 95 and sent an edge through to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler every time he was introduced into the attack he took a wicket.
First Bowling was a bold call from Captain Joe Root from England. James Anderson is playing his first test in four months, both Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad were ill in the Test build-up and Stokes has been struggling to bowl with a long-standing knee issue.
Archer bowled at times but was inconsistent, while Anderson was rusty after a long spell with a calf injury, and Broad finished the day looking heavy-legged at sapping temperatures after bowling accurately.
With no frontline spinner-Jack Leach was unavailable for selection due to illness-both Root and Joe Denly bowled a few overs, but England must hope that their strike bowlers will have enough energy to quickly finish the innings on Friday.
Captain Faf du Plessis of South Africa said he would batted if the toss had gone his way, but the hosts made an inauspicious start.


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