Proteas fast bowlers Rabada, Nortje rock England in first Test at Lord’s

England’s top-order batting failed against brilliant South African bowling, but the Proteas pacemen then mourned the arrival of rain as the rest of the first day of the first Test was washed out after the home side staggered to 116/6 on Wednesday.

After Proteas captain Dean Elgar won the toss and elected to bowl first on a partly-cloudy, humid morning in London, Kagiso Rabada (12-1-36-2) was at his phenomenal best as he removed both opening batsmen, Alex Lees (5) and Zak Crawley (9), to catches behind the wicket.

Left-armer Marco Jansen (6-1-18-1) then claimed the prized wicket of Joe Root, trapped lbw by a big inswinger, on the stroke of the opening hour. Root was gone for just 8, and he would have bemoaned his misfortune as replays showed the ball would only have clipped the leg-stump, which was not enough for his review to be upheld.

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England were in trouble on 42/3 and Anrich Nortje then ensured they sank deeper into the mire.

South Africa’s fastest bowler initially battled to find his radar, but in his third over he produced a thunderbolt that would have sent resounding tremors through the England camp, bowling the in-form Jonny Bairstow for a duck. Delivered at almost 150kp/h, it was full and angled in, and one of England’s key batsmen was comprehensively castled as the home team sank to 55/4.

Ollie Pope and captain Ben Stokes fought back with a fifth-wicket stand of 45, but England were cut deeply by the loss of Stokes (20) to the final ball of the morning session. Nortje struck another massive blow, with late movement away from the left-hander finding a leading edge that went to third slip. Stokes had played some thumping drives straight down the ground and was looking ominous.

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England took lunch on 100/5 and Nortje (9-1-43-3) then claimed his third wicket in the sixth over after the break. Ben Foakes (6) prodded at another rocket just outside off stump and could only inside-edge it on to his stumps.

That left England on 116/6 but the rain arrived two balls later, continuing to fall heavily enough that play was abandoned for the day at 4.30pm local time.

Lord's rain
Rain puddles form on the outfield at Lord’s Cricket Ground. Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

England are currently being kept barely afloat by Pope. Having come in after the fall of the first wicket, Pope resisted stoutly as he reached a determined 61 not out off 87 balls. Busy and compact, he had struck four fours in a fine display of positive batting.

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