PIETERMARITZBURG - Alastair Cook and Joe Root hit centuries on Monday as the touring England team played themselves into a dominant position on the second day of a three-day match against South Africa A. Skipper Cook hit 126 and Root made 117 in an England total of 414 for six declared -- a first innings lead of 278 runs. South Africa A lost both opening batsmen as they limped to the close on 35 for two, still needing 243 to make England bat again. With James Taylor and Ben Stokes having hit centuries against an Invitation XI in Potchefstroom, four of England's likely Test top six have hit centuries in the first two matches of the tour.

Alex Hales, the only specialist batsman to miss out in Potchefstroom, hit 56 in an opening stand of 112 with Cook as England continued to show impressive form ahead of the first Test against South Africa, which starts in Durban on Saturday. Cook made his runs off 194 balls with 16 fours and two sixes, while Root needed just 125 deliveries in an innings which included the same number of boundaries as his captain. Root and Stokes hammered 101 in a 91-ball fifth-wicket stand, with Stokes racing to 66 off 47 balls before he was caught on the boundary.

With South Africa having been trounced 3-0 in a recent Test series in India, the players next in line generally failed to impress. Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj was the only bowler to shine, taking four for 129, while opening batsman Stephen Cook, who carried his bat for an unbeaten 53 in an otherwise dismal first innings for the South Africans, was out for one in the second.

Scoreboard

SOUTH AFRICA A, 1ST INNINGS: 136

ENGLAND XI, 1ST INNINGS:

(OVERNIGHT: 64-0)

A. Cook c Paterson b Maharaj 126

A. Hales b Paterson 56

N. Compton lbw b Maharaj 29

J. Root c Ramela b Maharaj 117

J. Taylor b Maharaj 15

B Stokes c Maharaj b De Lange 66

J. Bairstow not out 2

EXTRAS: (lb2, w1) 3

TOTAL: (6 wkts dec, 97.5 overs) 414

FOW: 1-112, 2-178, 3-241, 4-291, 5-395, 6-414.

BOWLING: Morris 25-3-93-0, De Lange 21-4-99-1, Paterson 20-3-78-1, Maharaj 26.5-3-129-4, Cook 5-0-13-0.

SOUTH AFRICA A, 2ND INNINGS:

S. Cook lbw b Broad 1

R. Hendricks lbw b Ali 19

R. Rossouw not out 13

M. de Lange not out 0

EXTRAS: (lb1, w1) 2

TOTAL: (2 wkts, 11 overs) 35

FOW: 1-10, 2-34.

BOWLING: Broad 3-1-10-1, Footitt 3-1-13-0, Stokes 1-0-5-0 (1w), Finn 1-0-5-0, Ali 2-2-0-1, Root 1-0-1-0

TOSS: England XI

UMPIRES: S. George, P. Jele (both RSA)

MATCH REFEREE: D. Govindjee (RSA)