Zak Crawley’s maiden Test half-century gave England a stable basis before South Africa struck back on the primary day of the fourth and last Test on the Wanderers Stadium on Friday.
Holding an unbeatable 2-1 sequence lead, England have been 192 for 4 when dangerous gentle ended a rain-shortened day.
England’s youthful opening pair of Crawley (66) and Dom Sibley (39) shared England’s first century opening partnership since 2016 and blunted South Africa’s quick bowlers on a pitch which each captains anticipated to be difficult for batsmen.
Crawley, 21, and Sibley, 24, placed on 107 before Sibley was caught down the leg aspect by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock to present new cap Beuran Hendricks his first Test wicket.
South Africa claimed three extra wickets to have England at a barely precarious 157 for 4 however captain Joe Root and Ollie Pope took the vacationers safely by way of to the shut in deteriorating gentle.
Rain prevented any play before lunch and the South African bowling was surprisingly unthreatening when it did get beneath means.
Both groups opted for an all-seam assault on a pitch which often favours quick bowlers however there was no discernible swing or sharp motion off the floor as England’s openers scored at higher than three runs an over.
England have been 100 for no wicket at tea however South Africa modified their ways after the interval, bowling extra quick-pitched deliveries.
Crawley, in his fourth Test, batted confidently from the beginning and drove strongly off the entrance foot, though on 56, shortly before tea, he was hit on the helmet when he missed a pull in opposition to Anrich Nortje.
He made his runs off 112 balls and hit 11 fours before he offered Rassie van der Dussen with considered one of three catches at first slip, edging a ball from Vernon Philander which bounced greater than regular.
Joe Denly was dropped twice before he was caught by Van der Dussen off Dane Paterson for 27 and Ben Stokes made solely two before he performed an extravagant drive in opposition to Nortje to present Van der Dussen his third catch.