Tom Westley and Joe Root built up a stand of 61 to guide England to 153-2 by lunch on day four at The Oval.
It’s been another disappointing day so far for the Proteas, who would’ve aimed to eat into the England middle order in the morning session and prevent England from running away with an unattainable lead. Instead, England amassed 79 runs in that session, and while they lost Keaton Jennings for 48, Westley and Root pushed on comfortably.
After half the day was washed out on day three, the Proteas found a way back into the match with the clock suddenly ticking for an England victory. They’ll likely declare at some point shortly before tea, which will leave the Proteas to fight it out for just over four sessions.
England went into day four on 74-1, with Westley and Jennings pushing on in the evening session on day three after the early dismissal of Alastair Cook. The pair added 18 runs to that overnight total, and with that, crossing the mark for what would have to be the highest successful run-chase ever at The Oval (263-9, England vs Australia, 1902).
Jennings rode his luck a bit on day three after he was dropped by Dean Elgar and overturned an lbw decision. No such luck this time, as Kagiso Rabada got a bit of extra carry, and all Jennings could do was splice it to Chris Morris at gully, departing two runs shy of his half century.
Root got going straightaway as he looked to lift the momentum, and he scored 35 of the 50 runs he manufactured with Westley. The likes of Rabada and Vernon Philander were extracting a fair amount of swing, but they struggled to get the ball close enough to the bat to cause the batsmen any major difficulties.
Westley eventually managed to clip the ball off his pads for four to bring up his 50 in just his second innings in an England shirt, while Root looks comfortable on 38. They’ll look to up the tempo in the second session, and some serious discipline from the Proteas bowlers will be required to stop the flow of runs.
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