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Cook departs early on rain-hit first morning in Durban

After winning the toss and electing to bowl in overcast conditions, South Africa got the perfect start.

FILE: South Africa's fast bowler Dale Steyn. Picture: Cricket South Africa official Facebook page.

DURBAN - A fired-up Dale Steyn struck an early blow to remove England captain Alastair Cook for a duck as the tourists went to lunch at 12 for one wicket on a rain-hit first morning of the opening test against South Africa at Kingsmead on Saturday.

After winning the toss and electing to bowl in overcast conditions, South Africa got the perfect start to the four-match series by claiming the key wicket of opener Cook.

Debutant Alex Hales (10) and South African-born Nick Compton (one), batting at number three, will resume at the crease after the start had been delayed by 30 minutes due to morning drizzle.

The tourists lost Cook, who admitted he would have bowled had he won the toss, in the third over as the left hander was tempted by a delivery just outside off-stump from Steyn and edged to Dean Elgar at second slip.

On a wicket that looks devoid of the usual pace associated with Durban, the ball drifted away from the England skipper as Steyn bowled with a scrambled seam.

Just 6.1 overs were possible before the threat of lightning took the players from the field and a heavy downpour followed shortly afterwards.

England have also included Chris Woakes as a replacement for injured seamer James Anderson, while fast bowler Steven Finn returns to the side after recovering from a foot problem that saw him miss the recent away series defeat to Pakistan.

The Proteas opted for three seamers and off-spinner Dane Piedt, leaving young firebrand fast-bowler Kagiso Rabada on the sidelines.

They have also handed the wicketkeeping gloves to AB de Villiers, which allows the side to play an extra batsman with Stiaan van Zyl returning to the top of the order and Temba Bavuma moving to the middle-order.