England fighting back, 121-3 in 1st test vs. South Africa

December 26, 2015

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) England showed signs of a fightback on the first day of the first test against South Africa on Saturday to reach 121-3 at tea after two early blows by Dale Steyn.

James Taylor and Nick Compton took England past 100 on a rain-affected day when the tourists were put in to bat and had to battle through a troublesome opening salvo by fast bowler Steyn.

South Africa's spearhead removed Alastair Cook for a duck and debutant Alex Hales for 10, leaving England 12-2 under overcast skies in Durban.

Joe Root was out lbw for 24 off spinner Dane Piedt's first ball of the game to put England under more pressure.

Taylor and Compton, who was recalled for his first test in more than two years, brightened England's prospects with their unbeaten 72-run partnership. Taylor was 41 not out and Compton 40 not out, and England was likely to be further boosted with sunnier skies and friendlier batting conditions forecast to come at Kingsmead.

With Steyn fit again after a groin problem and restored to top-ranked South Africa's lineup, captain Hashim Amla put England in to bat on the opening day of the series. Steyn immediately applied the pressure.

Cook, who was never comfortable, edged to Dean Elgar at second slip in the third over of the test. Hales fell to a catch behind by wicketkeeper AB de Villiers as Steyn capitalized on the conditions.

England's top order had to battle Steyn and the weather, with rain causing a delay to the start of the series and two further breaks in play. The floodlights were on early in the afternoon to counter the gloom.

Root cracked two fours and sent a pull for six off seamer Kyle Abott in an attempted counterattack.

But Piedt's first delivery turned sharply and trapped Root back near his stumps for South Africa's third wicket, with England then 49-3.

Compton, who was born in Durban, provided the steadying influence for Root and then Taylor to work around.

Despite his size, the 5-foot-6 (1.7-meter) Taylor stood up to Steyn and fellow quick Morne Morkel, using the hook and pull to good effect among his seven fours.

England had begun to turn the tide when Amla decided to experiment with part-time seam bowler Stiaan van Zyl near the end of the afternoon session in an attempt to break the Taylor-Compton partnership.