England closed on 260-6 on the opening day of the fourth and final Test against South Africa at Old Trafford after a strong showing from Ben Stokes spared Joe Root's men from real embarrassment.
The hosts remained unchanged while South Africa were forced into two alterations, with Chris Morris and Vernon Philander out injured. Duanne Olivier and Theunis de Bruyn came in to replace the sidelined duo.
The morning session was a classic example of Test cricket. Just 67 came from the session off 29 overs with one wicket falling. Under-pressure Keaton Jennings, who averaged just 15 runs during the series coming into the fourth and final Test, fell for 17 off the bowling of Olivier. An outside edge saw the ball flick into Quinton De Kock's glove.
Tom Westley look composed at the crease alongside club teammate Alastair Cook as England got to lunch just one down. The hosts were the happier of the two sides heading into the interval after a tricky opening hour with the ball zipping off the damp surface.
The afternoon session belonged to South Africa. Shortly after Westley and Cook reached their 50 partnership, the latter was dismissed in similar fashion to Jennings, caught by De Kock off the bowling of Maharaj.
De Kock had his third catch of the day just three overs later as Westley edged the ball from the bowling of Rabada for 29 off 88 balls. With new batsmen Root and David Malan at the crease England looked to get through to tea with the ship steadied.
That didn't happen as in the penultimate over before tea Morkel drew the edge off Malan and he was caught at second slip by Faf du Plessis for 18. England entered tea at 147-4 after a topsy-turvy couple of sessions.
Root was the next to go after being caught lbw by Olivier. The England captain managed to rack up 52 runs and saw fit to review the call before eventually being given his marching orders by Kumar Dharmasena.
England were rocking a touch before a solid partnership of Stokes and Jonny Bairstow calmed proceedings for Root's men. Stokes did not waste any time as he raced to half century and looked set to see out the day, but Kagiso Rabada struck with a brilliant yorker in the penultimate over of the session to end the vice-captain's innings at 58.
Toby Roland-Jones came is as nightwatchman to join Bairstow at the crease as England closed on 260-6. Root's men may be the happier of the two sides at close of play, but South Africa know they are in with a chance of ending the series on a high after clinching vital wickets in really important moments.