June 8, 2023

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South Africa's Rabada sparks England collapse in first Test

South Africa’s Rabada sparks England collapse in first Test

Ben Stokes was dismissed on the stroke of lunch on the opening day of the first Test between England and South Africa at Lord’s on Wednesday, to leave his side perilously placed on 100-5.

South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada once again proved his worth, removing openers Alex Lees and Zak Crawley after England had been sent in to bat by Proteas captain Dean Elgar.

Fellow quicks Marco Jansen and Anrich Nortje followed up by capturing the prized wickets of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, with all four dismissed batsmen out in single figures as England slumped to 55-4.

With the final ball of the morning session, Nortje squared up Stokes (20) to have the England skipper caught in the slips. Ollie Pope was the lone batsman to hold firm, with 51 not out.

Spearhead fast bowler Rabada had been doubtful for the opening match of the three-Test series with an ankle injury, but the 27-year-old showed no sign of discomfort, taking 2-26 in nine overs.

England came into the game with a perfect record of four wins from as many Tests under their new leadership pairing of Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.

All of those victories had been achieved by chasing down targets in the fourth innings, something that cannot happen in this match after Elgar won the toss and fielded a green-tinged pitch under overcast skies.

Rabada had left-hander Lees caught behind for five and removed Crawley for nine after he nicked a ball that nipped away low to Aiden Markram at second slip.

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Star batsman Root was powerless to prevent further collapse, the former England captain lbw for eight to a huge inswinger from left-arm paceman Jansen.

Root reviewed Indian umpire Nitin Menon’s decision but replays indicated the ball would have clipped leg stump.

Bairstow had made 106 and an unbeaten 114 during England’s most recent Test — a seven-wicket win over India at Edgbaston last month.

But he was bowled between bat and pad for a five-ball duck by Nortje as he tried to drive on the up, with England now 55-4 inside 17 overs.

Pope completed a 69-ball fifty but the session belonged to South Africa.