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South Africa in sight of win after early strikes

Chasing 382, England ends Day 4 on 52/3 with Kagiso Rabada leading the host’s bowling charge

South Africa in sight of win after early strikes 
 - Cricket News
Hashim Amla plays a shot.
Seven wickets stand between South Africa and the end of its longest winless streak since readmission. After nine Tests, five of them lost and four of them drawn, the South Africans can finally go into the last day of an encounter with the anticipation of success.

With Kagiso Rabada picking up his eighth and ninth scalps of the match, England went to stumps on Monday (January 25) of the fourth and final Test on 52 for 3 in pursuit of a target of 382. The visitor’s more likely goal is to bat out 98 overs on the final day, although it would be interesting to see how Ben Stokes goes about his business. His mere presence in the England side might well have delayed South Africa’s declaration, which came on 248 for 5 at the end of a rain delay.

It left England with a tricky period to bat in increasingly murky light, and Rabada struck in his second over when an incutter kept low and trapped Alex Hales lbw. Three overs later, Morne Morkel held a return catch from Alastair Cook one-handed in his follow through, before Rabada put South Africa very much in charge by having Nick Compton caught behind.

It could have been even better for the host had Quinton de Kock accepted a difficult stumping chance from Joe Root off the bowling of Dane Piedt. Instead Root and James Taylor were both unbeaten on 19 when stumps were called.

There was a moment in Monday’s morning session, with James Anderson bowling as well as he has all series, when it appeared as though South Africa might not be in charge of its own destiny. Finding an extra yard of pace as well as some movement through the air, Anderson had Stephen Cook caught behind in the fifth over of the day, and then trapped AB de Villiers lbw two balls later.

Hashim Amla was able to see off Anderson’s spell along with JP Duminy, but the setbacks slowed the scoring rate a little as their 57-run partnership for the fourth wicket came in 20 overs. Continually shown up as being weak against off-spin through his career, Duminy had a personal triumph when he hit Moeen Ali over cow corner and into the swimming pool. A ball change was required, and the new one appeared softer and less threatening.

It, therefore, required a typically obdurate spell from Ben Stokes to separate the pair, as he removed Duminy for 29 in the course of a ten-over marathon that yielded just 15 runs. Amla brushed off another blow to his problematic hand to reach a slow 50 just before lunch, and South Africa went into the break on 121 for 4, leading by 254.

A lead of 300-plus looked safe even if South Africa’s innings suggested that wickets were hard to come by once the ball became soft. 

Temba Bavuma’s 50 came up from 118 balls, and Amla failed to reach three figures before the tea break, meaning South Africa batted on after the break despite leading by 356. When Amla nicked off for 96 after the break to end a 117-run stand, drizzle had rolled in so declaring would have ensured a rain delay. South Africa batted on until the rain became too heavy to continue, with Bavuma reaching an unbeaten 78, before declaring on the resumption.