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South Africa
World Test Championship

Bowlers seal comprehensive South African victory at Centurion

SA v Eng, 1st Test, day 4, report

England lost their last seven wickets for just 64 runs as South Africa secured a 107-run victory in the first Test at Centurion to go 1-0 up in the four-match series.

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With England on 121/1 at the end of the third day and requiring 255 runs for a win, the Test was evenly poised. If England had managed to pull it off, it would have been a famous victory and by the end of the first session on day four, it looked like the visitors were still in with a chance.

Rory Burns, whose fighting fifty had lifted England's hopes on day three only managed to add seven runs to his overnight total before falling to Anrich Nortje on 84. His partner Joe Denly followed a few overs later with Dwaine Pretorius trapping him in front to leave England on 158/3. The newcomers Joe Root and Ben Stokes had a few testing moments during the rest of the session, with Nortje bowling an intimidating line and length, constantly banging in short. But Root and Stokes brought in all their experience to see off the first session without further damage.

However, the patience of South African bowlers was rewarded in an extended second session that saw a quick collapse. Stokes (14) failed to survive after lunch, falling prey to Keshav Maharaj and with the half-century stand between him and Root broken, the floodgates opened.

The Proteas took the second new ball nearly eight overs after Stokes' wicket and the last six England wickets fell unceremoniously. Four out of the last six batsmen to fall posted only single digit scores. Captain Root made a 101-ball 48 but lack of support from the other end and his own struggles against Nortje brought his downfall in the 88th over.

England eventually folded for 268.Β 

Anrich Nortje was the pick of the Proteas bowlers in the second innings
Anrich Nortje was the pick of the Proteas bowlers in the second innings

Kagiso Rabada returned figures of 4/103, accounting for wickets of Jonny Bairstow (9) , Jos Buttler (22), Sam Curran (9) and Stuart Broad (6). But Nortje was the pick of the Proteas bowlers with his searing pace that rattled the batsmen, ending with figures of 3/56; while first-innings hero Vernon Philander went wicketless in the second innings.

England, who had elected to field first, had restricted South Africa to 284 in the first innings with Broad and Curran snaring eight wickets between them. In reply, though, Philander (4/16) showed his class, pairing with Rabada (3/68) to shake the top-order as England were bowled out for just 181. The hosts had then fattened their already handy lead with another 250+ total in the second innings putting themselves in a favourable position.

This is South Africa's first victory in last six Tests as they opened their account on the World Test Championship table with 30 points.

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