DateLine: 9th July 2017
By Andy Jalil at Lord's
England clinch the first Test by 211 runs
London Ė Moeen Aliís marvellous all-round performance stood out in Englandís brilliant win over South Africa in the first Test of the four-Test series. Moeen, with six wickets in the second innings in addition to four in the first, had superb match figures of ten for 112 and with his excellent score of 87 in the first innings there was no surprise that he was the man-of-the-match, which England wrapped up within four days.
Having been set a winning target of 331 in a day and a half, South Africa began their innings precisely an hour after lunch and were in trouble from the sixth over. Jonny Bairstow pulled off a marvellous left-handed diving catch on the leg side inches off the ground off James Anderson to dismiss Heino Kuhn with just 12 on the scoreboard. On the same total, Dean Elgar gave a chest-high return catch to Moeen when he stepped out and drove firmly.
The South Africa second innings seemed to follow the pattern of the England second innings earlier which saw wickets falling at regular intervals. On the stroke of tea, JP Duminy pulled Mark Wood straight into the hands of mid-wicket. An irresponsible shot at that moment when the plight that his team were in called for caution rather than bravado. And in the second over after the break Liam Dawson removed Hashim Amla for 11. That was the most important wicket to take and the tourists were deep in trouble on 28 for four.
Moeen then accounted for the middle order batsmen in successive overs. He bowled Quinton de Kock for 18, Temba Bavuma for 21 and had Theunis Bruyn held for one. Those three had gone in a nine ball spell. The next two wickets also fell to the off spinner in consecutive overs. Kashev Maharaj chopped a ball on to his stumps and Kasiga Rabada top edged his cut behind the stumps. That was the last of his six wickets in the innings and included a brilliant 25-ball spell which gave him five for 25. Dawson had two for 34 when he claimed the last wicket on the total of 119.
Resuming their second innings on 119 for one, England were comfortably placed when play began on the fourth morning but ten overs into the day the picture began rapidly to change. Alastair Cook with 59 overnight and Gary Balance on 20 had watchfully added 20 runs in those overs when South Africa struck with the wicket of Cook for 69. Cook drove Morne Morkel quite firmly to the off and Temba Bavuma at short cover picked up a low catch.
Three runs later England were 142 for three with Ballance, on 34, hanging out his bat to a ball that moved off the seam and took an edge for a catch behind. Morkel had taken 2 for one in 10 balls. The procession of England batsman coming out to bat and returning to the pavilion continued with Joe Rootís wicket the next to fall four runs later. South Africa had brought on the left arm spinner Maharaj and he had Root playing-on with an inside edge. Root intended to just block the ball on the back foot but left the bat hanging.
Ben Stokes, after his fine innings of 56 the first time around had only scored one when Rabada, having switched to bowling round the wicket to the left hander, trapped him plumb lbw and England had lost half the side for 149. The next three wickets fell within a run of one another. Moeen stepped out to drive and Maharaj seeing that, held it back a little for the ball to spin in and hit leg stump.
Dawson collected a pair in his second Test match when a high full toss hit the top of his stumps and with Stuart Broad going first ball, England on 182 for eight had lost seven wickets for 43 in a space of 93 balls. But Bairstow had been picking up runs, he hit three fours in an over from Maharaj displaying strokes on either side of the wicket. The first was a lovely cover drive, followed by a pull to wide mid-on and then a sweep. He got into the forties with a slashed four of Morkel and soon brought up his fifteenth Test half century from 74 balls when he ran two, flicking Rabada to mid-wicket.
Bairstow, along with Mark Wood, had put on 45 for the ninth wicket when Wood on 28 cross-batted to a straight ball from Rabada and that was 227 for nine. Maharaj, who finished with figures of four for 85, wrapped up the England innings on 233 when Bairstow stepped out to drive and was promptly stumped for 51.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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