LONDON: Ben Stokes’s double-strike, following half-centuries from Tom Westley, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, left England eyeing victory at the end of the fourth day of the third Test against South Africa at The Oval on Sunday.
At stumps, South Africa was 117 for 4 having been set a massive target of 492 and needing a further 375 runs for an improbable win. At one stage, the visiting side found itself reduced to 52 for 4 before Dean Elgar (72 not out) and Temba Bavuma (16 not out) led the fightback to give some hope.
England had earlier declared on 313 for 8 at tea after stretching its lead.
South Africa’s chase started on a wobbly note as Stuart Broad uprooted Heino Kuhn’s off stump. Then, for the second time in the match, debutant Toby Roland-Jones dismissed Hashim Amla to deliver a massive blow. Amla, on five, edged to Root at second slip while trying to withdraw his bat.
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Stokes then took over with wickets off consecutive balls to send back Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis. De Kock was bowled by a yorker, while du Plessis padded up to one that cut back sharply only to be lbw for a golden duck. Incidentally, du Plessis had fallen in a similar fashion to James Anderson for just one in the first innings.
South Africa was at 52 for 4 then before Elgar and Bavuma fought back to see the team through till the end of the day.
Earlier, England resumed on 74 for 1, already with a lead of 252, with Keaton Jennings 34 not out and Westley 28 not out.
Jennings fell after adding 14 to his overnight total when caught in the gully off Kagiso Rabada but Westley went on to complete a maiden Test fifty, which he got by flicking Morne Morkel off his pads for for a boundary.
Westley (59) and Root (50) both fell to Keshav Maharaj after lunch but Stokes, who slammed a century in the first innings, and Bairstow kept England going.