England secured a share of the spoils with South Africa after Alastair Cook's half century illuminated an otherwise rain-affected first day of the 100th Test match at The Oval. The hosts lost four first innings wickets but Cook [82 not out] and Ben Stokes [21 not out] put on 51 for the fifth wicket to keep the tourists at bay at the start of the third match of the four-game series.
The Proteas carried plenty of momentum from their emphatic win in the second Test and Vernon Philander dismissed the troubled Keaton Jennings for a duck in just the fourth over. Debutant Tom Westley - one of three previously uncapped players in the England team - played with ample confidence but edged Chris Morris behind for 25.
Cook and Joe Root  put on 49 before the current skipper feathered a beauty from Philander and Dawid Malan  followed after the first rain break after an in-swinging yorker bowled the Middlesex man. The dismissal left England 120 for 4 but either side of more inclement weather the home side rebuilt.
The dependable Cook had already gone to his 55th half century before he and the uncharacteristically watchful Stokes keep South Africa's seamers at bay before the rain returned again to bring a premature end to play with England 171 for 4 and the game evenly balanced.