South Africa were 65-1 in pursuit of 416 at tea on day four at Kingsmead.
The odds are against South Africa winning this Test. Only two Test teams have chased down a target of 300-plus at this particular ground. No team has managed more than 340 runs in the fourth innings.
That said, it appears as if the Proteas will endeavour to break that record. Dean Elgar and Stiaan van Zyl made a positive start to the hosts’ second innings, scoring at a brisk rate and not allowing the England bowlers to settle.
Van Zyl offered one half-chance to James Taylor at short leg. He played quite beautifully before he was bowled by Ben Stokes 10 minutes before tea.
England have four sessions to bowl South Africa out and claim a 1-0 lead in the series. They’ve been in control for much of the game, and remain in a position at strength.
Earlier in the day, Proteas off-spinner Dane Piedt took three wickets to claim his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket. However, Piedt and Van Zyl, who bagged three wickets of his own, were assisted by England’s aggressive approach. The visitors were willing to take risks in an attempt to push their lead beyond the 400-mark.
Jonny Bairstow played a gem of an innings, scoring 79 off 76 balls. The knock included three sixes and nine fours. Bairstow may have reached three figures had he employed a more circumspect approach. But at that point, England needed quick runs.
Despite South Africa’s good start to their second innings, they remain a side under pressure. The Proteas would do well to finish day four with only one or two wickets down. If they realise that goal, they may yet be able to save this Test match.
At the moment, though, that outcome still seems unlikely.
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 326 (2nd Innings) – Jonny Bairstow 79, Joe Root 73, Dane Piedt 5-153, Stiaan van Zyl 3-20
South Africa 65–1 (2nd innings) – Stiaan van Zyl 33, Dean Elgar 26 not out, Ben Stokes 1-15
South Africa need 351 runs to win