England in control after Stokes’s double
South Africa 175 and 117 for 4 (Elgar 72*, Bavuma 16*)
England 353 and 313 for 8 dec (Bairstow 63, Westley 59, Root 50, Maharaj 3-50)
England need 375 runs more to beat South Africa
Ben Stokes took two wickets in two balls to leave England eyeing victory in the third Test against South Africa at The Oval on Sunday (July 30). South Africa were 117 for 4 at stumps on the fourth day, needing a further 375 runs to reach a colossal target of 492.
One consolation for the visiting side was the fight shown by Dean Elgar (72 not out) and Temba Bavuma (16 not out) who kept England at bay after joining forces with their side in dire trouble at 52 for 4.
“(Hashim) Amla and (Quinton) de Kock are probably the two wickets we look at as being the main ones for us to try and get on a roll, so it’s nice to see the back of those two already –- they’re in form and two really good players,” Stokes told Sky Sports.
“But we’ve got two fighters still at the wicket at the moment, in Elgar and Bavuma, so hopefully conditions are similar tomorrow (Monday) and we can get them out early on.”
The 100th Test at The Oval was turning into a personal triumph for Stokes after he laid the platform for England’s dominant position with 112 in a first-innings total of 353.
Joe Root declared his side’s second innings on 313 for 8 at Sunday’s tea. That left South Africa needing to set a new record if they were to achieve an astounding victory, with the most made by any side to win in the fourth innings of a Test being Windies’ 418 for 7 against Australia at St John’s in 2003.
But while any realistic hopes of an improbable win quickly disappeared, a draw is not yet out of reach for South Africa, particularly if Elgar and Bavuma can continue their defiant stand and the bad weather that has plagued this match returns on Monday.
A draw would ensure this see-saw four-match series remained level at 1-1 ahead of next week’s finale at Old Trafford. Stuart Broad got the ball rolling for England after the declaration by uprooting Heino Kuhn’s off-stump.
Toby Roland-Jones’s dream debut then continued when, for the second time this Test, he dismissed Hashim Amla in single figures. Amla had made just 5 on Sunday when, trying to withdraw his bat, he saw the ball fly low off the face to Root at second slip.
Replays confirmed the catch and Amla, caught behind off Roland-Jones for 6 as the Middlesex seamer took 5 for 57 in the visiting side’s meagre first innings 175, was on his way. It was a far cry from five years ago at The Oval when Amla, now 34, struck South Africa’s Test-record score of 311 not out.
Quinton de Kock only managed 5 before he was bowled by an excellent Stokes yorker. Next ball Faf du Plessis, the South Africa captain, padded up to a Stokes delivery that cut back sharply and was lbw for a golden duck.
Du Plessis, who’d fallen in similar fashion to James Anderson for just 1 in the first innings, reviewed but to no avail. South Africa were now 52 for 4, having lost three wickets for five runs in eight balls, and Stokes was on a hat-trick at the start of his next over.
However, Bavuma denied him that prize before Elgar, the left-handed opener, completed a 77-ball fifty. The only thing missing for England on a great day was a wicket for birthday boy Anderson, their all-time most successful Test bowler, who turned 35 on Sunday.
England resumed Sunday on 74 for 1, already a lead of 252. Keaton Jennings was 34 not out and Tom Westley, one of three debutants in the XI, 28 not out. Jennings, born and raised in South Africa, was under pressure for his place after a run of low scores. He fell for 48 when caught in the gully off Kagiso Rabada.
Meanwhile, Westley demonstrated many of the grafting qualities England were accused of lacking during a huge 340-run defeat in the second Test at Trent Bridge. The No.3 batsman completed a maiden Test fifty when he clipped Morne Morkel off his pads for a ninth boundary in 119 balls.
Westley (59) and Root (50) both fell to Keshav Maharaj after lunch as the left-arm spinner took two for none in four balls. But Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, with a run-a-ball fifty, kept the runs coming.