England recovered from an early setback to finish at 275-7 and with a 364-run lead at lunch on day four at Kingsmead.
South Africa were good in the first session. Dane Piedt was particularly good, and recorded his best Test figures of 5-133. The big question in the context of the match, of course, is whether the Proteas were good enough.
The seamers and Piedt hit some good areas over the course of the session. Joe Root played positively before he edged a Kyle Abbott delivery to Stiaan van Zyl at first slip.
Piedt went for runs, but ultimately got the better of dangerman Ben Stokes. Had Stokes remained at the crease for an hour or so, England may have stretched their lead to 400 before lunch.
The visitors continued to push for quick runs, and presented the Proteas with opportunities. South Africa were poor on day three in terms of their catching, and missed some crucial chances. Early on day four, however, they fielded well. Six overs after Stokes’s departure, and exactly one delivery before the availability of the new ball, James Taylor charged down the wicket to Piedt, and was stumped by AB de Villiers.
What South Africa may come to regret is Hashim Amla’s reluctance to take the new ball. Evidently, Amla was hoping that the old ball would reverse and account for the remainder of England’s batting lineup. Piedt was also getting some turn with the old ball.
The opposite came to pass. Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali settled quickly following Taylor’s dismissal, and kept the scoreboard ticking over. The pair added 48 runs in 10 overs before Piedt finally had Ali trapped lbw.
The on-field umpire initially ruled not out, and Amla insisted on a review. DRS showed that the ball would have gone on to hit Ali’s off-stump. The decision was changed, a result that saw Piedt claiming his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
England will now look to score quickly after the break, and stretch their lead to 400 before declaring.
England 303 (1st Innings) – Nick Compton 85, James Taylor 70, Dale Steyn 4-70, Morné Morkel 4-76
SA 214 (1st innings) – Dean Elgar 118 not out, AB de Villiers 49, Stuart Broad 4-25, Moeen Ali 4-69
England 275-7 (2nd Innings) – Joe Root 73, Nick Compton 49, Dane Piedt 5-133, Morné Morkel 1-38
England lead by 364 runs