DateLine: 30th July 2017
By Andy Jalil at the KIA Oval
England on the verge of victory in third Test
London – England’s dominance in this match has been such that had four hour’s play not been lost owing to rain on the third day, South Africa might well have gone down in defeat by the end of the fourth day. But as it stands going into the final day, the tourists, on 117 for four need an unlikely 375 runs to win and the likelihood is that England should wrap up the match, weather permitting, half-way through the fifth day.
After South Africa began their second innings needing to reach a massive target of 492, England got an early breakthrough with Heino Kuhn bowled for 11 by Stuart Broad. It was a well- pitched up ball, moving slightly off the seam, to which Kuhn should have gone forward. He has had a poor series with 34 being his highest score in six innings so far. In the previous over, Dean Elgar, on 9, was fortunate when a low catch to gully was dropped off James Anderson.
Toby Roland-Jones was brought on the for 12th over, replacing Broad, and in his third over he once again claimed the important wicket of Hashim Amla for five. Amla seemed to be in two minds and was late in deciding to withdraw his bat. The ball went off the toe of the bat to second slip where Joe Root held a very low catch, confirmed by the third umpire.
Amla’s wicket was a big blow to South Africa but it got worse with the next two wickets falling on the score of 52, both to Ben Stokes. Quinton De Kock was yorked on five and the next ball trapped Faf du Plessis lbw without scoring. For the second time he was dismissed without playing a shot and South Africa had lost three wickets for five in eight balls.
Elgar and Theunis Bavuma, the top scorer with 52 in the first innings then steadied the innings with an unbroken partnership of 65 from 127 balls faced during an-hour-and-a-half of determined defiance. Bavuma showed solid defence with just 16 from 59 balls while Elgar was on 72 from 111.
Earlier, resuming the second innings on the fourth morning on 74 for the loss of Alastair Cook’s wicket, Keaton Jennings with 34 overnight seemed a bit more at ease than he has been in the five previous innings in this series. He soon took his score to 41 steering Morne Morkel for four past gully and in the same over he drove him square past point for four before running three to take eleven from the over.
But with just two short of a second Test half century, Kagisa Rabada coming on as first change, bowled a short rising ball just outside off stump and Jennings, having been at the crease for just under two hours, gave a spliced looping catch to gully. He passed his previous highest of 33 in the first innings of the first Test and it remains to be seen if his effort this time would be enough to retain his place which would have been in doubt after just 44 runs in his previous five innings.
Westley, who batted cautiously earlier, got into the forties with a beautiful square drive off the back foot to point and then brought up his maiden Test half century with a powerful drive to mid-wicket off Morkel and England’s 150 was up with the shot. Lunch was taken on 153 for two and soon after the break, Westley took two fours, the first of which, off Keshav Maharaj, was a powerful back foot shot to extra cover.
But Maharaj hit back in his next over having Westley stumped after nearly two-and-a-half hours at the crease and facing 141 balls. It can be said that he has had a successful first Test with scores of 25 and 59 and it is hoped that he will go on to fill the number three batting spot for England where others have been tried unsuccessfully. Root, who had taken 13 balls to get off the mark soon began playing his shots. He hit two fours in an over off Chris Morris, a flick off his hips followed by a square cut which took him into the thirties.
He was on 38 at lunch and 46 when Westley was dismissed in the 56th over. But in the following over he square cut Vernon Philander to bring up his 29th Test half century. Two overs later Maharaj had him held at deep square leg from a slog/sweep. An lbw appeal against Dawid Malan was turned down but the review requested by South Africa was successful and that was 202 for five, an overall lead of 380 by England.
With declaration in mind, England went for quick runs, Stokes hit two fours and a six off Morris before the bowler bowled him for 31. Moeen Ali was run out, for eight, in going for a second run but Jonny Bairstow helped himself to fifty from as many balls in an hour at the crease. Finally the declaration came with Bairstow, on 63 from 58 balls, caught at long-off giving Maharaj his third wicket for 50 and tea was taken leaving 40 overs to be bowled before stumps.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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