England put in a clinical performance yet again and are just four wickets away from taking a 2-1 lead in the third Test at Port Elizabeth. With rain predicted for the final day, England will once again have to be at their best like they have been throughout the match. Surprisingly, it was Joe Root who was the star with the ball for England, picking up his maiden four-wicket haul in Tests.
On Day Four, It took just 28 deliveries for England to get the remaining four wickets and conceded just one run in the process. Stuart Broad struck thrice, while Sam Curran picked up the other wicket to fall. South Africa conceded a 290-run first innings deficit and were asked to follow-on by Root.
Few overs after the South African second innings began, rain played spoilsport once again, which led to long lay-off. However, England continued from where they had left off as Mark Wood picked up two quick wickets to take England closer to a massive victory. However, with the rain threat imminent, they had to make every moment count, take all their chances and not bowl lose.
Just before tea, it was Root, who struck to get rid of Pieter Malan for a patient 12. South Africa were still under the pump with a deficit of well over 200 to be wiped off. Root was in the thick of things once again as he picked up the wicket of Rassie Van der Dussen after tea for 10, thanks to a brilliant catch by Ollie Pope at short-leg. He struck again a few minutes later and this time it was South Africa’s top-scorer from the first innings Quinton de Kock for three. Root was getting more purchase of the track than Dominic Bess and the duo bowled in tandem, which was making it difficult for the Proteas to keep out.
For the first time in his Test career that Root had picked up three-plus wickets in an innings and it could potentially pave way for a magnificent series victory. It looked at that point that nothing but a combination of rain and poor light can help South Africa.
Root added yet another feather in his cap when he got rid of his opposite number Faf du Plessis – South Africa’s last hope - for 36.
Despite of the deteriorating lights, Wood was allowed the share the attack with Root. England’s aim would have been to knock the remaining batsmen over today. However, they will have an opportunity to do so on Day Five, if the rains stay away.
Overall, it has been a sorry performance with both bat and ball for South Africa in this match and they should ideally turn their minds to The Wanderers for the fourth Test and aim for a comeback – and do that without their talisman Kagiso Rabada who has been banned for that game.
England 499 for 9 decl. (Ollie Pope 135*, Ben Stokes 120; Keshav Maharaj 5 for 180, Kagiso Rabada 2 for 97) lead South Africa 209 (Quinton de Kock 63, Dean Elgar 35; Dominic Bess 5 for 51, Stuart Broad 3 for 30) & 102 for 6 (Faf du Plessis 36, Dean Elgar 15; Joe Root 4 for 31, Mark Wood 2 for 23) by 188 runs