DateLine: 7th August 2017
By Andy Jalil at Old Trafford
England on verge of victory in Fourth Test and Series
Manchester – By the end of the fourth day’s play England are very likely to emerge victorious in the fourth Test. When rain brought an end to the third day’s play with England on 224 for eight and Moeen Ali unbeaten with an entertaining 67 from 59 balls, England were in an overall lead of 360 runs which could be well extended to put enormous pressure of the South Africa second innings.
At the start of the day it took England just under three overs to claim the last wicket after South Africa had added six runs to their overnight score to take their first innings total of 226. Stuart Broad had claimed that wicket when Duanne Olivier top edged his pull for a high, running back, catch taken by the wicketkeeper. Many fans had hoped that James Anderson would get that wicket to finish with a five-wicket haul – he had four for 33 overnight – on the occasion of one end of his home ground being named the ‘James Anderson End’, in his honour.
England began their second innings with a lead of 136 and their hopes of a substantial innings soon began to fade. Within an hour into their innings they had lost two wickets with 30 on the scoreboard. Alastair Cook, on 10, drove at a ball from Morne Morkel, well away from his body and got a thick edge to gully. Four overs later Tom Westley drove Morkel also into the hands of gully after having played the previous ball beautifully to the cover boundary.
Next to go was Keaton Jennings, who would have known that this was almost certainly his last chance to impress with a big score. He fell to Kagiso Rabada for 18 when he cut a ball, short, but not wide enough for the shot and Hashim Amla held it at chin height. With a run aggregate of just 127 from four innings and an average of 15.88 in the series, he will have made way for another candidate to be tried as Cook’s opening partner in the forthcoming Test series against West Indies.
Also needing to make a case for further selection were Westley and Dawid Malan who both made their debut in the last Test. Malan has not done much in four innings but Westley has a half century. So those two are other areas of numbers three and five batting positions where the selectors will be looking. Malan lost his wicket for 6 on the total of 72 but England were able to make a little recovery for the fifth wicket when Joe Root and Ben Stokes put on 57 before the England captain played-on to a ball from Duanne Olivier.
Root was unlucky to miss a half century by just one run and England’s lead at that stage had been extended to 265. Stokes went six overs later for 23, playing defensively to Olivier and edging to first slip. Olivier struck again for the seventh wicket on 153 when Jonny Bairstow, after his 99 in the first innings, managed just 10 before top-edging his shot to long-leg. Olivier had taken three for 27 in ten overs which included two for four in 17 balls when he dismissed Stokes.
Moeen Ali made up for his low score of 14 in the first innings when along with Toby Roland-Jones he put on 58 for the eighth wicket. He was dropped at slip on 15 off Keshav Maharaj and went on to play freely, hitting a six off Maharaj and bringing up his eleventh Test half century from 49 balls with a big straight six which went into the balcony in front of the players dressing room.
Moeen’s third six took him to 61 but meanwhile South Africa claimed the wicket of Roland-Jones for 11 with Maharaj running back at mid-wicket to take a fine catch off Rabada and England were 211 for eight. Ten minutes later, at 5.16pm rain stopped play for the first time in three days despite having been a threat of rain on each of those days.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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