South Africa’s bowlers came to the party on the fourth day of the second Test against England at Trent Bridge to help the visiting side notch a resounding 340-run win on Monday.
With Vernon Philander leading the way, South Africa bowled England out for a sorry-looking 133 more than half an hour before tea with the home side chasing a massive 474. The win helped South Africa level the four-match series at 1-1 after it had suffered a 211-run loss in the opening Test at Lord’s.
Philander, who took the Player of the Match honours, instigated the collapse on the penultimate afternoon of the Test on his way to figures of 3 for 24 from 10 overs. Not only was his match-haul of five wickets crucial to South Africa’s victory, his scores of 54 and 42 too played a massive role.
Starting the day with one run on the board without the loss of a wicket, England would have fancied its chances of putting on a fight, especially with Kagiso Rabada out of the picture for South Africa because of a one-match ban.
England knew that it would have to bat out of its skin to save, let alone win, the Test. In fact, the most made by any side to win in the fourth innings of a Test is the Windies’ 418 for 7 against Australia at St John's in 2003.
Clearly, the task was daunting, and it only got steeper after England lost Keaton Jennings and Gary Ballance to Philander by the 12th over of the innings. Joe Root, the England captain, and Alastair Cook, the former captain, had the unenviable task of keeping South Africa’s pacers at bay.
Cook succeeded to some degree, scoring 42 (the highest score in the innings), but Chris Morris felled Root, and pushed England into a tighter corner by getting rid of Cook not much later.
Building on the foundation laid by the pacemen, South Africa had Keshav Maharaj getting into the act with the wickets of Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali after lunch. But it was Philander who landed the telling blow, dismissing Ben Stokes with a fine caught and bowled dismissal.
Duanne Olivier, playing in place of Rabada, got into the act with the wickets of Mark Wood and James Anderson to signal the end of the Test as England lost its last four wickets for six runs.
The series continues at The Oval from July 27.