Rory Burns thwarts South Africa to raise England's hopes of win in Centurion Test

Visitors 121-1 chasing 376 for victory after Jofra Archer picks up five wickets

CENTURION, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 28: England batsmen Joe Denly (l) and Rory Burns touch gloves as play finishes for the day with both batsmen still at the crease after Day Three of the First Test match between England and South Africa at SuperSport Park on December 28, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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England batsmen raised hopes of a shock win in the first Test against South Africa in Centurion on Saturday.

Set a massive target of 376 on a challenging pitch, the visitors were well-placed at 121-1 at stumps with opener Rory Burns unbeaten on 77 and England needing 255 more runs for victory.

Victory seemed the last thing on England’s mind when the day started with captain Joe Root and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler joining their ever-growing sick list.

Buttler did not take the field at the start of play. Jonny Bairstow kept wicket in his place. Root was on the field at the start but left before the morning drinks break.

Then, South African nightwatchman Anrich Nortje frustrated the visitors by making 40 in the morning session.

Debutant Rassie van der Dussen (51) and nightwatchman Nortje set the tone for the Proteas, adding 91 valuable runs for the fifth wicket.

Van der Dussen and Nortje were together until half an hour before lunch as England endured a frustrating morning.

First innings top-scorer Quinton de Kock hit 34, including a blazing start shortly before lunch when he raced to 30 off 17 balls. Three of his first four scoring shots were sixes, hooked off Jofra Archer despite fielders being placed on the boundary.

Vernon Philander, who will retire at the end of the series, made 46 as South Africa took their lead beyond the 300-run mark that Philander had said on Friday night he considered "probably a safe zone".

Fast bowler Archer claimed the third five-wicket haul of his short Test career, taking 5-102. But he was expensive and persisted with short-pitched bowling for most of the morning session on a pitch where a fuller length was imperative.

The pitch had eased out considerably but was still throwing up a few surprises.

Rory Burns was given out leg before wicket to Kagiso Rabada with his score on six in the first over of the chase but called for a review which showed the ball missing his off stump.

Burns and Dom Sibley (29) then put the Proteas under pressure with a solid opening stand of 92 at SuperSport Park.

Sibley was looking good before he pushed back a return catch to left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj. It was an impressive innings by Burns, who took 117 balls for his runs and hit 11 fours.