England hammers South Africa, team already hit by Rabada ban

Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope made centuries to hammer a South Africa team already hit by a ban for its top bowler as England took control on a potentially decisive day of the test series on Friday.

Stokes made 120, Pope 135 not out for his maiden test century, and England surged to 499-9 declared on the second day of the third test in Port Elizabeth.

South Africa couldn't safely see out 18 overs at the end and lost Pieter Malan (18) and Zubayr Hamaza (10) to be 60-2 in reply. Spinner Dom Bess took both wickets.

England was on top throughout a one-sided day and South Africa was relieved when rain finally allowed it to get off the field in the early evening. Bess constantly troubled the batsmen and fast bowler Mark Wood was clocking speeds of 90 mph (145 kph) at the other end.

With star allrounder Stokes leading the charge once again, England built a commanding position in the match and had possibly carved out a key moment in the series, which is level at 1-1 but leaning heavily in the tourists' favor with one more test to come.

South Africa was way behind - trailing by 439 runs - and burdened by the additional blow of fast bowler Kagiso Rabada being banned for the series-deciding fourth and final test in Johannesburg next week.

Rabada's ban was announced on Friday morning, a punishment for his provocative celebration in the face of England captain Joe Root on the first day of the test at St. George's Park.

With that news hanging over them, the South Africans appeared completely deflated in the field and Stokes and Pope took full advantage on a pitch that's pretty tough for bowlers anyway.

Stokes and Pope took their careful 76-run partnership overnight to an unbroken and flourishing stand of 187 by lunch.