South Africa v England: Hosts close in on Centurion victory

By Jamie LillywhiteBBC Sport
Nick Compton is dismissed
Compton made only six before he edged Rabada to the wicketkeeper
Fourth Test, Centurion (day four)
South Africa 475 & 248-5 dec: Amla 96, Bavuma 78*
England 342 & 52-3: Rabada 2-15
England target 382

South Africa need a further seven wickets on the fifth day for a consolation victory in the final Test after reducing England to 52-3.

Needing 382 to win, or to survive four sessions to draw, England lost Alex Hales, Alastair Cook and Nick Compton inside 10 overs in Centurion.

Kagiso Rabada, who claimed 7-112 in the first innings, took two wickets.

Earlier, South Africa declared on 248-5, thanks to Hashim Amla's 96 and an unbeaten 78 from Temba Bavuma.

No side has chased more than 251 to win at SuperSport Park, and, given the uneven bounce on a deteriorating pitch, South Africa will reasonably expect to claim victory for a 2-1 series defeat.

You couldn't predict it, could you...?

Toby Higgins
This prescient tweet was sent before the start of the England innings

Facing a formidable new-ball pairing of Rabada and Morne Morkel on an unpredictable pitch in gloomy light was not a scenario an out-of-form Hales would have relished.

The opener, who has scored one half-century in four Tests, was beaten by a fine delivery from Rabada that nipped back and kept low to trap him lbw for one.

When captain Cook pushed hesitantly back to Morkel, who took a sharp one-handed return catch, the tourists' slim hopes of avoiding defeat diminished further.

Compton drove loosely at Rabada, a disappointing shot which was followed by the batsman's strange decision to use up one of England's two reviews when there seemed little doubt he had edged behind.

Although Joe Root and James Taylor added an unbroken 34 from 18-3, England must survive 98 overs on a final day which will begin half an hour early at 08:00 GMT.

Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott told Test Match Special: "Do I have to talk about England's batting?

"The pitch was a handful but Hales failed the test again. Compton played a shocking shot."

Marc Higginson graphic

Can England save the game?

England bowler James Anderson on TMS: "It will be a tough task to save the game tomorrow, but we will come with a positive attitude. We'll do our best to get something out of the game."

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: "England face an uphill battle to save this Test. They have 98 overs still to bat, with the second new ball available after 60 - if required."

Amla presses on

James Anderson had Stephen Cook caught behind and trapped AB de Villiers lbw for a pair - his third consecutive duck - in the space of three balls after South Africa resumed on 42-1.

However, former captain Amla took his run tally for the series to 470 with another assured innings.

Having been struck painfully on the glove on Sunday evening, he was hit again but progressed serenely on a pitch with widening cracks.

Duminy made 29 before he too fell to an outside edge off Ben Stokes, and, although Amla and Bavuma added 117 in 37 overs, there was no discernible acceleration from South Africa despite a position of strength.

Chasing the four that would have taken him to three figures, Amla edged a drive off Broad, and skipper De Villiers declared during a 70-minute rain delay after tea.

There was some surprise at the length of time it took to reach the decision, but Rabada and Morkel made full use of the 21 overs possible before the close.

Highest successful fourth-innings chases in Centurion
251-8: England beat South Africa, 2000
226-4: South Africa beat Sri Lanka, 1998
199-3: South Africa beat Pakistan, 2007
124-7: South Africa beat Sri Lanka, 2002

The stats you may have missed

  • AB de Villiers became the third Test captain to make three successive ducks after South Africa's Hansie Cronje in 2000 and Pakistan's Imtiaz Ahmed
  • Jonny Bairstow became the first England wicketkeeper to have 20 dismissals in a four-match series
  • Stuart Broad now has 50 Test wickets against South Africa
  • Hashim Amla fell four runs short of making two centuries in a Test for the second time

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