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World Test Championship

England defy South Africa rearguard to level series in Cape Town

SA v Eng, 2nd Test, 5th day, report

Three late wickets from Ben Stokes helped England overcome a heroic South Africa fightback to draw level at 1-1 in the four-Test series.

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South Africa began the fourth innings on day four needing to bat the best part of five sessions to maintain their series lead, and dragged the game deep into the final session before England finally broke down their resistance.

Nightwatchman Keshav Maharaj was the first to fall, pinned LBW early in the day, but wickets weren’t nearly as easy to come by as the day went on. Faf du Plessis battled 57 balls for 19 before hitting Dominic Bess to square leg, and Pieter Malan, whose 288-ball vigil was the second-longest fourth-innings effort on Test debut, was finally winkled out by Sam Curran, who angled one across to take the edge on its way to Stokes at second slip. With the catch, Stokes equalled the English record for catches by a non-wicketkeeper in a single Test match. 

Crawley's rebound catch helped England secure a dramatic victory
Crawley's rebound catch helped England secure a dramatic victory

Quinton de Kock grafted 107 balls for his half-century, but also had himself to blame for his dismissal, hitting Joe Denly to short midwicket, and Rassie van der Dussen, having kept out 140 deliveries, was victim of an unusual field placing, James Anderson moved to leg gully one ball before Stuart Broad enticed van der Dussen to tickle it straight to his old mate.

Then it was over to Stokes. Dwaine Pretorius was caught in the cordon having been worked over, while Anrich Nortje lasted one ball, also nicking off with Zak Crawley holding on after a juggle. Kagiso Rabada entered, and with time running out helped South Africa believe again, especially with Vernon Philander looking steady at the other end.

But Philander, having held out for 51 balls, could finally hold on no longer, fencing to Ollie Pope at gully to spark wild celebrations from the tourists.

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