England declared on 313-8, handing the Proteas four sessions to chase down a world-record 492 at The Oval.
Despite expectations that England would declare an hour before tea, or with a lead of 420, they’ve gone right through to the end of the second session.
It now means the Proteas are going to have to dig deep in record proportions. The 492 they need will shatter the 263-9 Australia chased down against England 115 years ago, and it will break the record for the highest-ever chase in Test history set by West Indies, when they got 418-7 against Australia in 2005.
England were well set going into the second session on 153-2 and boasting an already significant 331-run lead, thanks to Keaton Jennings’ 48 and Tom Westley’s 50. Westley and Root piled on 78 runs and that continued after the break as Root brought up a half-century of his own.
Root started to go into one-day mode, but that brought the end of both him and Westley in the space of 1.3 overs with the introduction of Keshav Maharaj (3-50). Westley (59) charged down to Maharaj and the spinner responded by bowling a bit shorter for the debutant to misread it and offer Quinton de Kock the simplest of stumpings. Root then top-edged a slog sweep to depart for 50.
It’s not going to go down as a debut to remember for Dawid Malan, as the Paarl Boys-educated batsman scored 10 after scoring one in the first innings, thanks to Chris Morris (2-70) overturning an lbw decision.
Ben Stokes carried on from his 112 in the first innings, as he blitzed a 49-run stand with Jonny Bairstow in just 7.4 overs, giving the English a bit of breathing space to declare earlier. Morris bowled Stokes for the all-rounder to depart for 31 off 38 balls, but again the England think-tank kept bringing out the batsmen.
Mooen Ali was run out for eight, before a cameo from Toby Roland-Jones (23) and Barstow’s 63, which came off just 58 balls, provided the finishing touch.
With the target virtually impossible to track down, the Proteas will have roughly 120 overs to try and survive in this Test match. All eyes on the top order at The Oval as they look to keep it at 1-1.
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