DateLine: 8th August 2017
By Andy Jalil at Old Trafford
England win final Test and series 3-1
Manchester – With 25 wickets, the highest in the series and a spell five for 23 in 40 balls in the innings, as well as an unbeaten innings of 75, man-of-the-match and the series, Moeen Ali led England to 177-run victory in four days in the final Test. With this win, England have recorded back-to-back series victories over South Africa for the first time in 58 years. They have also maintained their good record on this ground having remained unbeaten in eleven Tests. For the Proteas there were commendable performances with the bat from Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis but the tough target set by England proved to be beyond them.
It took just 17 balls at the start of the fourth day’s play for South Africa to claim the two remaining England second innings wickets with Morne Morkel having both Stuart Broad and James Anderson held by Theunis de Bruyn. Broad, on 5, swung to cover with no foot movement and ten minutes later Anderson, on 2, with the England total 243, went defensively on the back foot to a ball which rose a little and pushed it to short leg.
Moeen Ali, who was on 67 at close of play on the previous evening remained unbeaten on 75 from 66 balls which was so valuable in such a modest total of 243. Rain stopped play for 45 minutes before South Africa could begin their second innings facing a target of 380 to win in the 89 overs for the day – after reduction for rain – and 98 overs to be bowled on the fifth day.
South Africa’s hopes of saving the match let alone winning it, began to fade when, in just over an hour, they lost three wickets for 40. Both opening batsmen went after only ten overs and on the stroke of the delayed lunch, the third wicket fell. Dean Elgar, followed his first innings nought with 5 before he edged behind a ball from Broad which moved slightly away. Eight runs later, Heino Kuhn was held at first slip when he hung out his bat to a ball from Anderson.
Amla and Temba Bavuma, who was twice beaten in an over just outside off stump by Broad, took the total to 40 before Toby Roland-Jones found a thin edge off his bat. He was not given out and England asked for a review of the decision which was successful. Amla, who had been batting very cautiously and had taken 40 balls before playing a stroke to the boundary – a lovely wristy shot to mid-wicket off Moeen – settled into a partnership with du Plessis and brought up the hundred on the scoreboard along with his 35th Test fifty, from 100 balls, in just over two hours at the crease.
England struggled to break the stand and certainly the ball movement in the afternoon sunshine was not as prodigious as earlier in the overcast conditions when the three wickets had fallen. Both batsmen showed great concentration and waited patiently for the loose ball to score of. They brought up the hundred of the stand from 163 balls. Joe Root, the England captain put himself on with his off-spinners and had spin from both ends with Moeen having been kept on for a long spell.
Amla took his score to 82 with a straight six off Moeen and just as it was beginning to appear that South Africa may well be able to take the fight into the fifth day, Moeen struck with the big wicket of Amla. On 83, the bearded South African moved across to play the ball to leg with the spin and was pinned in front of the stumps. That ended a defiant fourth wicket stand on 163 with the two batsmen having added 123 from 188 balls.
Du Plessis went on to complete his fourteenth Test half century from 75 balls but the momentum was with England at that stage. Ten runs after Amla’s dismissal Moeen struck again in his next over when Quinton de Kock edged his slash low to second slip. On the same score of 173, the seventh wicket fell, in similar manner as the previous wicket, with de Bruyn pushing an edge to slip and Moeen had taken three for five in 11 balls. At the delayed tea the tourists were 182 for six with de Plessis 60 not out.
After just two overs into the final session, du Plessis’ innings of 61 spanning over two-and-a-half hours came to an end when he faced the first ball after tea from Anderson and slashed it behind the stumps and that was 183 for seven. Twelve runs later Anderson had Kagiso Rabada held at short cover to finsih with three for 16 and 20 wicket for the series. Finally Moeen wrapped up the match and the series with the last two wickets in successive balls.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2004-2017 Micro Electronics Technology Inc., and CricketArchive