JOHANNESBURG: Joe Root's ninth Test century has kept England on track against South Africa in the third Test - and may have keep the tourists in line for a long-awaited series win over the Proteas.
Root was 106 not out and England 5-238 when bad light and then a thunderstorm ended play around 45 minutes early on the second day on Friday.
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England were 75 behind and closing in on South Africa's first-innings total of 313 at the Wanderers.
A first-innings lead would put England in a strong position in the four-Test series, which they already lead 1-0 and can wrap up with a match to spare with victory in Johannesburg.
Root's innings compensated for England's early struggles at 2-22 and 4-91. He was backed up by Ben Stokes, who came out swinging to make 58 in a pulsating partnership with Root.
The pair put on 50 in 34 balls and 100 in just 85 balls before Stokes fell to end the 111-run stand.
Root was solid throughout, hitting 17 fours and reaching 100 late in the afternoon with a sweet cover drive to the boundary.
On a testing pitch where batsmen were often uncomfortable, Root offered no real chances to the fielders apart from a near runout, when AB de Villiers swooped and threw at the stumps from mid-off with Root scrambling through for a single. If the ball had hit, Root was gone.
It didn't, and he made his way to three figures for the first time in five months, since his 130 against Australia in August.
Meanwhile, Stokes provided the turbo boost, relishing the chance to attack South Africa's quartet of fast bowlers on a quick, bouncy track.
His personal duel with Morne Morkel, who had Stokes in trouble early in his knock, ended when Morkel dismissed him caught and bowled after another menacing delivery found the top edge and popped up in the air.
By then, Stokes and Root had taken England from 4-91 to 5-202 and within range of South Africa's score.
England hasn't won a series over South Africa in 11 years, and that was also its only success in South Africa since the country returned to international cricket after apartheid.
On 7-267 overnight, the Proteas got past 300 thanks largely to an eighth-wicket stand of 56 between Chris Morris and Kagiso Rabada, and 32 from last pair Viljoen (20 not out) and Morkel.
England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow took six catches to equal the record at Wanderers, but dropped a tough high chance that would have seen him equal the world record.
That drop of Morkel off James Anderson began an action-packed final over of the South African innings.
After seeing the chance go down, Anderson was ordered out of the attack by the umpires on the next delivery for running on the pitch in his follow through.
Stokes, England's all-action hero, took over from Anderson and got Morkel out first ball.