Poor light saves SA, the fitness of their batting again in question



The fitness of South Africa’s batting line-up for Test cricket was once again called into question as they were bowled out cheaply for the second time in the third Test against England, with the home side rushing to the brink of victory until only poor light stopped them at The Oval on Sunday evening.

This was despite restricting England to just a 40-run first-innings lead and a first-wicket stand of 58 between Sarel Erwee (26) and Dean Elgar (36). England’s pacemen once again bowled superbly to dismiss South Africa for just 169 in their second innings, leaving them with a target of 130 for victory, and openers Zak Crawley (57 not out off just 44 balls) and Alex Lees (32*) batted in dashing fashion to get them to 97 without loss in just 17 overs. England will need just 33 more runs on Monday’s final morning to win the Test and the series.

Read more: Bad light stops play at the Oval, England need 33 runs to win on Day 5 — Live

It was a sad ending to the day for the Proteas after they had enjoyed a magnificent morning session.

England had resumed their first innings on 154/7 and Kagiso Rabada and Marco Jansen needed just 16 balls to wrap up the innings for only 158.

Jansen (12.2-2-35-5) claimed his maiden five-wicket haul and showed what a bright future he has as a Test strike bowler, while Rabada showed that class is permanent as he rebounded from a poor first eight wicketless overs for 63 runs to end with 4/81 in 13 overs.

South Africa were looking good on 70/1 at lunch, but three overs after the break, Elgar showed poor decision-making as he failed to review when Stuart Broad, bowling around the wicket and angling the ball into the left-hander, won an lbw decision against him. Replays showed the ball was clearly missing leg-stump and Elgar’s battling innings ended on 36.

Veteran quicks Broad (13-2-45-3) and Anderson (15.2-4-37-2) then turned the screw with some wonderful pressure bowling and the Proteas batsmen were simply unable to get out of their hole. They lost their last nine wickets for 86 runs, with Ben Stokes (13-2-39-3) once again taking key wickets and Ollie Robinson producing a telling double-strike against the middle-order as England got the ball swinging prodigiously.

Needing just 130, England were obviously overwhelming favourites and South Africa needed early wickets and quickly. Rabada found Lees’s outside edge with the first ball of the innings but Jansen, lunging to his left at fourth slip, dropped a two-handed chance.

The bowlers, having toted around such a heavy burden in this series due to the horribly misfiring batting, just could not lift themselves to perform any miracles after that.

Also read: Jansen gets precious runs and wickets to keep Proteas in the Test