It took longer than expected on the final day, but England wrapped up the Port Elizabeth Test by an innings and 53 runs to go 2-1 up in the four-match series.
England did not take long to get a breakthrough on the final day. Stuart Broad got rid of Vernon Philander off the third ball of the day, while Mark Wood dismissed Kagiso Rabada off the very first ball of his spell, but not before the South African tailender played a couple of eye-catching shots.
From there it was just a matter of time. Dominic Bess dismissed Anrich Nortje for a duck. England had picked up three wickets within the first hour and were on the verge of taking a series lead. However, the final wicket stand of Keshav Maharaj (71) and Dane Paterson (39*) denied the visitors of an early finish. The duo put on 99, which is the highest 10th wicket partnership in South Africa.
Maharaj also hit Joe Root for 28 runs (24 off the bat) in an over, which added a little excitement. Eventually, it took a run-out by Sam Curran to finally clinch the match and with that the series lead.
In the first innings, centuries from Ollie Pope (135*) and Ben Stokes (120) propelled England to a massive 499 for 9. The only positive for South Africa was Maharaj’s five-wicket haul.
In reply, South Africa never seemed to be in the game right from the beginning even though their openers put on 50 for the first wicket. Dean Elgar (35) offered some resistance early on but it was once again the man in form Quinton de Kock, who dug the Proteas out of a precarious position. He added 54 for the seventh wicket, which gave the hosts a chance of avoiding the follow-on.
However, they lost four wickets for just one run on the fourth day to the first 28 balls of the day, which put England back in the driver’s seat. Dominic Bess with his maiden five-wicket haul was England’s star with the ball.
Following on, it was a similar tale for South Africa. They had to score 290 to make England bat again. They went in with an approach to block everything out, but England were too good with the ball and the Proteas found it impossible to keep them out for long periods of time. With the pitch offering some turn on Day Four, it was surprisingly England captain Root, who got the maximum purchase and picked up four wickets along the way.
With four more wickets left to pick up on the final day, it was a mere formality for England even though the last wicket stand delayed the inevitable.
The next Test will be played at The Wanderers, Johannesburg and the home team will be without the services of their talismanic fast bowler Rabada, who has been banned for the game for accumulating four demerit points. South Africa’s already inexperienced pace attack will be further dented in Rabada’s absence.
While England have already retained the Basil D'Oliveira trophy, they will be gunning for a series win at The Wanderers. South Africa on the other hand will hope to rectify their batting and hope they find a decent replacement for Rabada. Beuran Hendricks and Andile Phehlukwayo are the other options at their disposal for the moment.
England 499 for 9 decl. (Ollie Pope 135*, Ben Stokes 120; Keshav Maharaj 5 for 180, Kagiso Rabada 2 for 97) beat South Africa 209 (Quinton de Kock 63, Dean Elgar 35; Dominic Bess 5 for 51, Stuart Broad 3 for 30) & 237 (Keshav Maharaj 71, Dane Paterson 39*; Joe Root 4 for 87, Mark Wood 3 for 32) by an innings and 53 runs
Player of the match: Ollie Pope