South Africa goes down by seven wickets at the Wanderers, set to concede No. 1 spot in ICC Test rankings to India
For seven sessions, the third Test between South Africa and England had ebbed and flowed without either side getting much more than their noses in front. A tight five-day affair lay in prospect, with the potential for a series decider at Centurion next week.
But, after lunch on Saturday (January 16), Stuart Broad steamed in from the Corlett Drive End to produce one of the great series-defining spells that he has made one of his trademarks. With Broad taking five wickets for one run in 31 deliveries, South Africa was reduced to 35 for 5 in their second innings, leading by just 25. It finished 83 all out in just 33.1 overs shortly after tea, with Broad taking 6 for 17. England duly knocked off the 74 runs required to win by seven wickets and take an unassailable two-nil lead in the four-Test series.
As remarkable as it was to watch, Broad’s performance was not completely surprising given his record. This was the seventh occasion that he has taken five wickets in a single spell, and it can be added to similarly crucial big-series spells such as the 8 for 15 that clinched the Ashes at Trent Bridge last year, the 6 for 25 at Old Trafford that put England 2-1 up with one to play against India the year before, the 6 for 50 that sealed the Ashes at Chester-le-Street in 2013 and the 5 for 37 in the Ashes decider at The Oval back in 2009. His six wickets on day three of this Test took his career tally past Bob Willis’s to 330. Only James Anderson and Ian Botham have more for England now.
Although Dean Elgar will look back with regret on his dismissal, when he chased a wide delivery and edged through to Jonny Bairstow, the rest of Broad’s wickets were well deserved. Stiaan van Zyl was lured forward and edged to gully. AB de Villiers joined Hashim Amla but eight minutes later a vicious inducker saw him caught off the inside edge. Amla went in Broad’s next over, with James Taylor taking an unlikely catch at short leg as the batsman middled one off his legs. Temba Bavuma was next, leaning back to try and let one bounce over his stumps, only to play on as the ball followed him. That gave Broad his 16th five-wicket haul, and he finally relinquished the ball after a post-lunch spell of 8-6-5-5.
He was replaced by Steven Finn, and Finn was next to strike, with Taylor taking an even more outrageous catch, snaffling a diving one-handed effort as Dane Vilas flicked one off his hips. The procession continued when Ben Stokes found some mean swing to knock over Chris Morris and then have Kagiso Rabada caught behind for a top score of 16.
South Africa was in danger of lowering its lowest Test score since readmission for the second time in three months – on the back of the 79 all out in Nagpur recently. That didn’t happen, but 83 was its lowest total at home since readmission, and it has now lost five wickets for less than 20 runs nine times in its last ten Tests.
Alastair Cook and Alex Hales the knockout blow when they put on 64 for the first wicket – their highest partnership of the series – to make sure there would be no contest. There was a late wobble as Elgar dismissed Hales and Nick Compton, and Cook edged Morris behind for 43 at a time when the game was essentially being played under floodlights. But the umpires opted to be practical, and Joe Root sealed the game and the series with a flick through the leg side.
South Africa’s lone bright spot on the day was Rabada’s maiden five-wicket haul, which was responsible for keeping England to 323 and just a ten-run lead. Rabada struck the crucial blow with his eighth ball of the day when he moved one in to Root and Vilas took a thin inside edge. Root departed for 110, and took England’s hopes of a big lead with him.
Rabada and Morne Morkel maintained the pressure on Bairstow and Moeen Ali, but South Africa’s weakness remained its change bowling. Hardus Viljoen’s first over of the morning cost 12, and after three more wasteful overs he was pulled from the attack and left to consider his figures of 1 for 79 from 15 overs.
The other change bowler, Morris, also struggled to contain, but he did pick up an important wicket when he swung one back into the left-handed Moeen (19), and a thick inside edge drew an outstanding one-handed take from Vilas as he dived back to his right. When Rabada took two of the last three wickets to finish with 5 for 78 and lead the South Africans off the field to a standing ovation, every face in the stadium was smiling. But that didn’t last long.
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