Bairstow's 99 puts England on top in South Africa Test

Ben Stokes admitted having to work hard for his century but was pleased with his knock

An absorbing day of Test-match cut and thrust finished with honours more or less even but with South Africa over-flowing with belief, thanks to a searing yorker from the final ball of Kagiso Rabada's day that burst through the defences of England's top-scorer and most potent threat, Ben Stokes.

They had resumed with 260 for six on a sunny morning, and were especially well served by Bairstow - whose first 50 came from exactly 100 balls and the next 49 from just 45.

Hampshire left-arm spinner Liam Dawson, who did not play at The Oval after featuring in the first two Tests of this series, was retained in the squad.

"Test cricket is a harsh world to come into and the tough thing for him is that there is talk about players being found out at global level".

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Root (52) and Dawid Malan (18) consolidated the innings with a 52 run stand but once again South Africa bounced back after Morne Morkel (1-58) castled the latter at the stroke of tea during which England were positioned 147 for four. It also helps his cause that he can bat, as two useful twenties in this match demonstrated.

"The way he played in that second innings was extremely great to see, hopefully that'll lead into some more runs". When the ninth England wicket fell he was on 53.

Amla- He remains the best South African batsman regardless of his slight dip in form. But for James Anderson, Lancashire's most prolific Test wicket-taker, the chance to ply his trade from the newly conferred James Anderson End at Old Trafford merely raised his game to heights he has rarely matched in six previous matches on his home ground.

After England were justifiably criticised for their reckless batting during their embarrassing 340-run defeat at Trent Bridge, they needed to find a No. 3 with a sound technique and an excellent temperament to replace the injured and incapable Gary Ballance.

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99 and out. Bairstow became the unlucky 13th England batsman to fall just a single short of his hundred in Tests.

England vs South Africa Live Score 4th Test Day 2: South Africa 47/2. It was arguably a poor decision, as he bowled fewer overs than expected in the first innings, went to hospital at the end of the second day and then was below-par in the second innings. "The one thing you would expect every player to have (is) guts - determination, the desire to improve and get better", said Bayliss.

But victory at Old Trafford would at least ensure South Africa maintain a proud away Test record.

Anderson came to the fore again in the evening session, removing Temba Bavuma's bails for 46 and encouraging Faf du Plessis (27) to drag an inside edge onto his stumps, before drawing an outside edge from Theunis de Bruyn (11), taken in the slips by captain Joe Root.

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With Rahul set to return for the second Test that starts in Colombo on Thursday it has left Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri with a dilemma.

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