South Africa's chances evaporate at The Oval

31 July 2017 - 06:57 By TELFORD VICE
BRAVE STANDSouth Africa's Dean Elgar sends the ball past England's Ben Stokes on the fourth day of the third Test match between England and South Africa at The Oval cricket ground in London yesterday. Picture: AFP PHOTO / Glyn KIRK
BRAVE STANDSouth Africa's Dean Elgar sends the ball past England's Ben Stokes on the fourth day of the third Test match between England and South Africa at The Oval cricket ground in London yesterday. Picture: AFP PHOTO / Glyn KIRK

South Africa's chances of winning their Test series in England all but evaporated at The Oval yesterday.

Stumps on the fourth day of the third Test couldn't come soon enough for the visitors, who teetered on 117/4 in search of 492 to win.

They looked out on their feet at the crease, from Heino Kuhn's limp leap that saw him bowled, to Hashim Amla trying to leave and instead steering a catch to second slip, to Quinton de Kock being yorked off his boot, to Faf du Plessis being trapped in front playing no stroke - for the second time in the match.

But, for all that, there were a couple of hard bastards - Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma, and they will be back today.

Elgar, hit on the left hand when he fielded off his own bowling in England's second innings and again when he batted, and dropped on nought, was 72 not out.

Bavuma, his back against the wall not for the first time and probably not the last in his career, faced 59 balls for his unbeaten 16.

Their stand, which lasted 21 overs, was worth 64 - only 375 to go for what would be an outrageous win.

Should England complete what has been a superior performance in all departments with victory today, they will hold a 2-1 lead.

That means South Africa will be reduced to trying to draw the rubber when hostilities resume in Manchester on Friday.

Only once in their 413 Tests before this have South Africa chased down more than 400 to win, and only five times have they salvaged a draw after being set a target of 400 or more.

England resumed on 74/1, and Keaton Jennings was dismissed in the fifth over of the day when Kagiso Rabada surprised him with extra bounce. The ball took the shoulder of the bat and flew to gully, where Chris Morris secured the catch.

Jennings, who was dropped on six on Saturday, scored 48 - his best effort in six Test innings.

England's surge towards an imposing target drove the dynamic of the first two sessions, the end of which brought their declaration on 313/8.

X