Rain had the final say on the first day of the first Test between England and SA at Lord’s on Wednesday.
Play was abandoned just after 5pm SA time due to persistent rain that came down with the Proteas enjoying the upper hand after they restricted England to 116/6 from 32 overs.
Because of the early finish on Wednesday, the remaining days of the Test match will be played up to 98 overs and play will be possible until 6.30pm local time in England.
The Proteas started on a frantic note with frontline fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortjé making full use of conducive conditions to rip through the England top order.
Rabada and Nortjé produced an exhibition of quality pace bowling to put England under pressure in the opening session as they benefited from overcast and humid conditions.
England reached lunch sitting dangerously on 100/5 after 26 overs, Rabada and Nortjé having terrorised the top order with two wickets apiece for their impressive efforts.
SA’s blistering start was vindication for captain Dean Elgar who won the toss and decided to bowl against an England side that had won their last four Test matches.
The pick of the Proteas bowlers was Nortjé who returned with 3/43. He was ably supported by Rabada (2/46), while Marco Jansen chipped in with 1/18. Lungi Ngidi was the only Proteas bowler not to add his name to the wicket-takers column and captain Elgar was yet to call on the only spinner in the team, Keshav Maharaj.
SA got off to a lively start with Rabada accounting for Alex Lees (5) whose thick outside edge flew in the direction of Kyle Verreynne behind for a regulation catch. A few overs later, Rabada was in the thick of things again as he was responsible for the demise of Zak Crawley, caught by Aiden Markram at slips having scored just nine.
Influential Joe Root (8) was the third batter to be dismissed when he was trapped in front by Jansen. He was followed by Jonny Bairstow off the bowling of Nortjé for a golden duck.
The moment of the opening session came when Nortjé removed England captain Ben Stokes with the last ball before lunch. Ollie Pope was a lone bastion with an unbeaten 51.
There wasn’t much action during the brief spell of the second session in which play was possible after lunch, as only six overs were bowled for 16 runs. One wicket fell as England tried to rebuild their innings.
Shortly before the rain arrived, Nortjé claimed his third wicket of the day by clean bowling the dangerous Ben Foakes as the Proteas continued to tighten their grip on the match. With that wicket Nortjé finally took his 50th Test wicket in his 13th match to follow in the footsteps of Duanne Olivier in 11 Tests and Maharaj in 12.
When play resumes on Thursday, Pope (61 not out) and Stuart Broad (yet to score) will look to contribute to England’s mission of putting up a significant first innings total considering they are left with tail-enders Jack Leach, Matthew Potts and James Anderson.