England tighten the screws on South Africa with a 465-run lead

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safari
26 Jan 2020 | 07:47 AM
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Shubh Aggarwal

England tighten the screws on South Africa with a 465-run lead

Beuran Hendricks picked up a five-wicket haul on debut

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Joe Root's patient half-century coupled with contributiuons from everyone in the batting order help England set South Africa a world record target of 466 to win the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.

The England captain scored 58 and played an anchor role before he was last man out. England were bowled out shortly before the close for 248.

Earlier in the day, Root decided not to enforce the follow despite England leading by 217 runs on the first innings. 

Mark Wood was once again a thorn in South Africa's flesh. Having scored a crucial 35 in England's first innigs, the paceman took five for 46 wrapping up South Africa innings for 183.

Vernon Philander was out to the sixth ball of the day, reducing South Africa to 93 for seven, at which stage a follow-on seemed a strong possibility.

But Quinton de Kock (76) and Dwaine Pretorius (37) kept England in the field for most of the morning and probably made sure England would decide to bat again. De Kock scored his fourth half-century of what has been a poor series for the South African batsmen. His team-mates have contributed only five other 50-plus scores between them.

Pairing up with Pretorius, de Kock added 79 for the eighth wicket and prevented England from wrapping up the innings early. Their partnership gave the South Africa the hopes of saving the follow-on. 

However, Ben Stokes broke their stand by dismissing Pretorius for 37. Wood did the rest by dismissing de Kock and Paterson in quick succession to wrap up South Africa's innings for 183 and claim the second five-wicket haul of his Test career. 

Given the good conditions to bat and the amount of time left in the game, England decided to bat again. Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley began England's innings in the conventional manner. The opening pair scored only 26 runs in the first 10 overs but carried on firmly to bring up the third consecutive 50-run stand between them, hence, laying agood platform for other to build on the lead.

In the meantime, South Africa suffered another setback when Vernon Philander had to leave the field during his second over with the new ball. The right-arm medium pacer pulled up his hamstring and trudged off the field. 

Overall, it was an unhappy day for Philander, who will be retiring from international cricket at the end of the match. Apart from his early dismissal for four, he received a fine of 15 percent of his match fee for his 'send-off' of Jos Buttler on the second day and he then pulled up with a hamstring injury after bowling just nine balls in the second innings. 

Despite the loss of their leading bowler, South Africa bowled and fielded better than in the first innings when England scored 400. England continued to stretch their lead but the home side kept pegging them back with wickets at regular intervals.

Left-arm seam bowler Beuran Hendricks claimed a five-wicket haul on debut, finishing with five for 64 when Root was last man out to a sensational diving catch by South African captain Faf du Plessis at a wide slip.

Ben Stokes, Sam Curran and Mark Wood all batted with freedom as England stretched their lead despite losing wickets at regular intervals.

Typically at the Wanderers, there was some uneven bounce as cracks opened up, which will make South Africa's task virtually impossible.

With two days remaining, England are well-placed to complete a 3-1 series win. The Faf du Plessis-led side have a humongous task in front of them. 

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