NOTTINGHAM, England (AP) — Joe Root steadied England again with a rapid half-century, guiding his team to 85-2 at lunch after it lost both openers in successive balls to slip to 3-2 on Day 2 of the second test against South Africa on Saturday.
The bowlers were clearly in the ascendancy on the second morning until Root got to the crease, with James Anderson making quick work of South Africa's tail with a superb spell of 4-4. The Proteas went from 309-6 overnight to 335 all out in their first innings.
But England's batsmen also struggled at first at a cloudy Trent Bridge, with Alastair Cook (3) and Keaton Jennings (0) quickly falling to bring skipper Root to the crease in the fifth over.
He came out firing, hitting nine fours in his 52 not out off just 43 balls to counterattack alongside Gary Ballance (26 not out).
England trailed by 250 with eight wickets in hand by the end of the session, with Root and Ballance scoring at a blistering rate of five runs an over.
Like in the first test at Lord's, when Root was called on early and responded with 190 to set up victory, the new captain's presence turned England's innings around.
The unbroken partnership of 82 between Root and Ballance made sure England didn't waste a successful start to the day, when Anderson removed Vernon Philander in the first over of play without the stubborn tailender adding to his overnight score of 54.
Anderson needed just 20 deliveries to take all four of the South African wickets, finishing with a caught and bowled — which he held on to after a juggle — to remove Chris Morris for 36 and wrap it up.
South Africa, which fought back from 235-6 on Friday, added just 26 runs for the loss of those last four wickets and lasted just 6.2 overs on the second morning.