Gauteng v England Performance Programme, Pretoria, 2nd day December 1, 2009

Liam Plunkett fills Mark Davies' shoes

Cricinfo staff

England Performance Programme 239 for 2 (Cook 76, Moore 68, Bell 51*) trail Gauteng 328 (Mokoena 121, Burger 105, Plunkett 5-47) by 89 runs

Liam Plunkett cashed in on Mark Davies' misfortune as the England Performance Programme (EPP) side fought back strongly on the second day of their tour match against Gauteng. Davies claimed four wickets on the first day but was unable to take the field on the second morning after his bowling boots were removed by groundstaff during a shower before play got under way.

With Davies stuck on the sidelines, Durham team-mate Plunkett took charge to finish with 5 for 47 as Gauteng, who began the day on 311 for 6, were bundled out for 328. After being released from England's one-day squad last week, Plunkett's performance is an important nudge for the England selectors ahead of the Test series.

In a rain-interrupted day, the tourists then pressed home the bowlers' good work, with Stephen Moore, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell all hitting fifties to lift the total to 239 for two at the close.

Cook hit 11 boundaries in his 76 before he was caught behind off Ugasen Govender. After struggling at the top of the order in the Twenty20 series, and disappointing in the Ashes, he needs a good Test series against South Africa to cement his place in the side, while Bell is fighting to retain his spot in the top order.