The Proteas took four wickets in the second session, but Joe Root’s 49 allowed England to get to 138-6 by tea.
The way the pitch is playing up as day three wears on, suggests that this is a very healthy lead for England, but the Proteas continue to plug away to keep themselves in the contest.
The state of the pitch was summed up by Root’s dismissal, as a Duanne Olivier delivery kept low to sneak under the bat and hit the stumps. Keshav Maharaj is getting a lot of purchase in the footmarks, which can only mean good news for Moeen Ali and England, as the hosts continue to ease into an extremely difficult lead to chase down.
England went into the second session on 53-2, this after the Proteas added six runs to their overnight 220-9 to trail by 136 runs.
Alastair Cook and Tom Westley fell in that session, thanks to another brilliant spell of fast bowling from Morne Morkel, and Morkel and Kagiso Rabada continued to bowl well after lunch. Rabada found the breakthrough, as Keaton Jennings capped off a disastrous series to find the edge and walk back for 17.
The Proteas continued to battle hard and they soon had their fourth, as Dawid Malan popped one up straight to short leg to walk back for six. On 72-4, South Africa were right in it.
But then Joe Root, as he has done throughout the series, had other ideas and frustrated the visitors as he helped take the lead past 250. A 57-run stand followed between him and Stokes, but it wasn’t without some chances as Stokes actually edged one behind with no one – including the umpire – picking it up when he was on five. He then blasted a pull shot straight to Heino Kuhn on 19, but Kuhn couldn’t quite hold on to what would have been an excellent take.
Olivier took it into his own hands as he bowled Root for 49 as the ball kept low, and then another excellent delivery from Olivier saw the end of Stokes, squaring him up to edge it through to Faf du Plessis and walk back for 23.
South Africa are still in this, thanks to the regular wickets, but England’s lead of 274 is a daunting one, as Jonny Bairstow (0) and Moeen Ali (4) will look to take the lead past 300 in what might be a rain-affected session.
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