DateLine: 31st July 2017
By Andy Jalil at the KIA Oval
England’s convincing win gives them series lead
London – England’s victory in the third Test at The Oval by the overwhelming margin of 239 runs was very appropriate on the occasion of the ground staging its hundredth Test match. With the win England go 2-1 up in the series with the final Investec Test to come later this week at Old Trafford, Manchester. The match was wrapped up within an hour after lunch on the fifth day with Moeen Ali taking his first Test hat-trick, the milestone also happened to be the first on this ground and it came on a landmark occasion.
After Dean Elgar’s defiant innings of 136 from 228 balls – the first century scored by the tourists in the series – and spanning five-and-a-half hours was ended, soon after the start of the second session, with Moeen having him edge to slip, there was little else left in South Africa’s resistance to delay the inevitability of England’s victory. The last three wickets fell on the score of 252 leaving Keshav Maharaj not out with 24. With this performance, Moeen’s off spin has brought him eighteen wickets in the series (three Tests) so far for 265 at an average of 14.72.
After the start of the day’s play, it took nearly an hour for England to finally break the fifth wicket overnight stand of Elgar and Temba Bavuma and it came with the bowling change when Toby Roland-Jones was brought on. He added to his previous two wickets in the innings trapping Bavuma leg before wicket with the batsman on 32 from 97 balls after stubbornly defending for just under two-and-a-half hours during a century partnership with Elgar.
The fifth wicket fell on 160 and on the same score, Vernon Philander, who has been ill during this match fell lbw to the first ball. He too went to Roland-Jones who had three for 72 in the innings to finish with a match haul of eight for 129, an excellent display of seam bowling on his Test debut. Chris Morris with 24 supported Elgar in a 45-run stand before he edged Moeen off the last ball before lunch.
It took just eight minutes after Elgar’s dismissal for England to claim the wickets of Kagiso Rabada, whose forward push was edged to slip and Morne Morkel. The appeal against Morkel’s lbw had been turned down but England’s request for a review of the decision was successful. Ben Stokes’ fine all-round performance with scores of 112 and 31 and three wickets in addition to four catches saw him as man-of-the-match.
After the match South Africa captain, Faf du Plessis said: “It's very obvious we missed Vernon (Philander) but you have to give credit to how the England team played. Vernon is one of those world-class performers you take him at 50%, we knew he'd be sick and the plan was to hopefully win the toss and bat and give him an extra day (to recover). We thought he'd be back for days two, three, four and five. We missed him in the first innings to put more pressure on England.”
He added: “It's very obvious the mistakes we made here and in the first Test. With the bat we weren't able to withstand the pressure. It's important you fight through it, but we didn't do that. It's been a very strange series, extreme from one to another, we don't have to scratch our heads - it's basic. Dean's (Elgar) knock was amazing and something we can look towards."
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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