South Africa loses last six wickets early on fifth day of first Test, adding only 38 to its overnight score
After four days of growing dominance, England stamped its authority on the four-Test series as it dismissed what remained of South Africa’s batting line-up in just 100 minutes on Wednesday (December 30). South Africa added only 38 runs to its overnight score while it lost the last six wickets, with a final total of 174 all out giving the visiting side a 241-run victory.
England had barely put a foot wrong over the final three days, and had shared the load around effectively. On the final day, it was Moeen Ali who struck the key blow by dismissing AB de Villiers, before finishing with 3 for 47 in the second innings and a match haul of 7 for 116 that made him player of the match.
England can travel to Cape Town on Thursday knowing it has played something approaching a perfect game – it was the team's first victory in the opener of an overseas Test series against top 8 opposition in 11 years. It will be buoyed by the knowledge that James Anderson is likely to be fit for Saturday’s marquee Test at Newlands, where the Barmy Army, too, will be out in force.
South Africa is not unfamiliar with starting series slowly – only the West Indies has been dispatched in the first match of a home series over the past two and a bit years – or with losing in Durban, where it has now lost five of the last six Tests. But the side's confidence would be shaken, given that it has not won in seven games since the corresponding fixture last season.
That run has left it with some questions on the best team composition. Quinton de Kock and Chris Morris have also been called up to add options for the second Test. But as Russell Domingo said after Wednesday’s defeat, South Africa “can’t throw everyone out and bring in five new players – England would love that. But there are so many options and things that can be discussed.”
In Durban, South Africa needed de Villiers to bat through the final day, but when he was trapped lbw by Ali with the third ball of the morning, the game was up.
Temba Bavuma was stumped in Ali’s next over. Dale Steyn, the nightwatchman, was bowled by Finn, who went on to record figures of 4 for 42. Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad – who had ripped through South Africa's top order in its first innings – picked up the last two wickets. Duminy hung in and stroked a few attractive boundaries, but all that could be achieved with his 26 not out was to restore a smidgeon of confidence for the second Test.
It’s a commodity that Hashim Amla admitted has been in short supply during a run of nine innings in which South Africa has failed to score more than 214, and remains the one ingredient that can turn things around.
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