TOP SPIN AT THE TEST: South Africa’s Faf du Plessis having no luck with the toss while England’s search for an opening stand ton goes on
- England ended day one of the third Test in Port Elizabeth on 224 for four
- South Africa lost the toss, meaning Faf du Plessis has lost six in a row now
- England star Ben Stokes is closing in on a record to put him in the history books
- Meanwhile, Joe Root’s side are still struggling for a strong opening partnership
- REPORT: Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope dig in with unbeaten stand of 76 runs
England lurched dangerously close to a crisis on Thursday at the start of the third Test, but for a fifth wicket stand of 76 runs from Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope.
Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley looked to be building a solid foundation for England to thrive off but quick wickets meant their first innings looked ominous, until Pope and Stokes took to the crease.
Here, Sportsmail run through the biggest talking points from the opening day of the third Test…
England looked to be on the ropes before Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope dug in in the third test
Faf’s in a flap
South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis has now lost six tosses in a row — there is a one in 64 chance of that happening.
Only Graeme Smith (eight between 2008-09) has lost more consecutive tosses for South Africa.
Du Plessis is still way off the world record though — held by Sportsmail’s Nasser Hussain who lost 10 between 2000 and 2001!
Faf du Plessis’ winless run at the toss extended on Thursday for a sixth successive test match
England still searching for opening stand ton
Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley’s opening stand of 70 was the 70th consecutive time that England’s first-wicket pair have failed to have reach 100 runs.
All 70 of those games have come under Joe Root’s captaincy.
In fact, the last time England had a first-wicket stand of over 100 was in Alastair Cook’s final Test as captain at Chennai in December 2016.
Despite staying in for over 30 overs, England are still looking to make an opening stand ton
…but Crawley and Sibley dig in
Crawley and Sibley may not have reached three figures as a pair, but their partnership (30.6 overs) was the longest an England opening pair has batted without loss since Andrew Strauss and Cook batted for 47.5 overs against Australia at Lord’s in 2009.
However, England still haven’t made it to lunch on day one without losing a wicket since 2011 v India at the Oval.
Stokes closing in on landmark
Ben Stokes is now 56 runs off reaching 4,000 in Tests.
He will become the seventh player to score 4,000 runs and take 100 wickets after Garry Sobers (WI), Jacques Kallis (SA), Ian Botham (England), Kapil Dev (India), Carl Hooper (WI) and Daniel Vettori (New Zealand).
England star Stokes is on the verge of making history as he closes in on 4.000 Test runs