England are on the verge of handing the Proteas a hefty innings defeat after captain Joe Root rattled through the hosts’ batting lineup in the final session of day four of the third Test in Port Elizabeth, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
The Proteas will go into the final day of the encounter on 102-6 and still 188 runs behind England’s first innings total of 499.
The South African’s batting unit had no answer for the part-time off-break deliveries of Root, who enjoyed much success by bowling full to Pieter Malan, Faf du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen. All fell trying to play him on the front foot.
Centurion in the first innings, Ollie Pope, then put on an excellent catching display at short leg, taking the catches of Van der Dussen and then Du Plessis, who managed his highest score of the series but departed for just 36.
Quinton de Kock failed to offer any form of a repeat of his first innings when he tried to go big against Root, only to chip the delivery straight into the air and into Mark Wood’s buckets, in what was arguably the wicketkeeper’s worst shot of the series.
The Proteas’ batsmen paid the price for their defensive stance this afternoon against the spin of Root and Dom Bess before a lack of application saw the Englishmen cash in.
England need just four wickets to move to Johannesburg 2-1 up where they will face a Kagiso Rabada-less South Africa. Who of the current top six of the Proteas will play that game is also up for debate.
Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj will resume on Monday where the weather forecast remains questionable.