The Proteas moved to 208-6 at the close of play on day three of the third Test against England at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Resuming on 60-2 overnight, the hosts lost opener Dean Elgar, captain Faf du Plesis and series debutant Rassie van der Dussen in quick succession. The trio fell to spinner Dom Bess, who has all five of the innings’ wickets. Bess continued to extract turn on a pitch that is increasingly placid for the seam bowlers.
After a substantial break due to rain, nightwatchman Anrich Nortje and wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock continued to address a near 400-run deficit.
Their determined alliance was eventually broken by Ben Stokes. He ended Nortje’s stay, which spanned over three hours.
De Kock later moved to an unbeaten half-century and will resume alongside Vernon Philander on Sunday. The left-hander should have been dismissed earlier, but slip-fielder Stokes dropped a straightforward catch.
The home side are still not within safety of avoiding the follow-on.
England had amassed 499-9 declared on Friday, thanks largely to centuries from batsman Ollie Pope and all-rounder Ben Stokes.
The ton marked the ninth of Stokes’ Test career and third against South Africa. He also welcomed 4,000 runs in the longest format of the international game. He was eventually dismissed by debutant Dane Paterson, who relished a maiden Test wicket. Pope successfully navigated the so-called nervous 90s to graduate to a maiden Test century.
South Africa, meanwhile, have been jolted by fast bowler Kagiso Rabada’s suspension. He may still bowl in this match, but has been banned from the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg later this month. Rabada’s suspension came after Thursday’s arguably overzealous celebration of England captain Joe Root’s dismissal.
The Proteas have won 13 and lost 12 Tests at St George’s Park. They’ve also shared five draws. The last Test at the Port Elizabeth venue was in February 2019, when Sri Lanka beat South Africa inside three days.
This four-Test series is locked at 1-1. The Proteas won the first Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion inside four days. England triumphed late on the fifth day in the second Test at Newlands in Cape Town. The Wanderers in Johannesburg will host the fourth and final Test later this month.
South Africa: Dean Elgar, Pieter Malan, Zubayr Hamza, Faf du Plessis (c), Rassie van der Dussen, Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Dane Paterson.
England: Zak Crawley, Dominic Sibley, Joe Denly, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Curran, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood.