Kagiso Rabada achieved best Test figures of 6-101 to reduce England to 318-8 at tea on day three at Centurion.
Five overs after lunch, rain descended on Centurion and offered England a 45-minute reprieve. For a time, it appeared as if the break had worked in the visitors’ favour. Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali played positively and found the boundary with some ease.
That was, however, until AB de Villiers took the second new ball and tossed it to Rabada. The conditions were ideal for fast bowling at that point. Rabada was South Africa’s go-to man, having dismissed the likes of Joe Root, James Taylor, and Jonny Bairstow earlier in the day to claim his second five-for in Test cricket.
Rabada bagged a sixth when he removed Stokes with the second ball of his spell. The current six-wicket haul is Rabada’s best in the five-day format, bettering the 5-78 he achieved in the first innings of the third Test at the Wanderers.
It was an important strike. Stokes had just smashed Dane Piedt for 11 in the previous over, and was starting to look dangerous with 33 runs off 27 deliveries. However, the England all-rounder had no answer to a full delivery that deviated off the deck. The ball caught the edge and flew to Hashim Amla at first slip.
Morné Morkel so nearly had Chris Woakes in the subsequent over. The No 9 batsman fended at a vicious delivery and got an edge. Unfortunately for the Proteas, wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock’s leaping attempt was in vain. De Kock did enough to prevent a boundary, but not enough to complete the catch.
While Ali and Woakes ensured that England avoided the follow on, their partnership did not survive to see the tea break. JP Duminy was introduced into the attack late in the session, and managed to dismiss Woakes in freakish fashion. Woakes edged the ball onto De Kock’s pads, and it spooned up in the air. Dean Elgar made no mistake in taking the catch.
The Proteas may be counting on the spin bowling trio of Duminy, Elgar, and Piedt to wrap up the England innings in the final session. Rabada and Morkel have been worked hard today, while the latest news from Centurion is that Kyle Abbott is battling with a hamstring injury. South Africa’s options will be limited.
For ball-by-ball commentary, click below:
SA 1st innings 475 – Quinton de Kock 129 not out, Stephen Cook 115, Hashim Amla 109, Ben Stokes 4-86
England 1st innings 318-8– Alastair Cook 76, Joe Root 76, Moeen Ali 45 not out, Kagiso Rabada 6-101
England trail by 157 runs