England closing in on series win over South Africa

Third LV= Insurance Test, The Kia Oval (day four of five)
South Africa 118 (Robinson 5-49, Broad 4-41) & 169 (Stokes 3-39, Broad 3-45)
England 158 (Pope 67, Jansen 5-35) & 97-0 (Crawley 57*)
England need 33 runs to win

England are closing in on a series-clinching victory over South Africa after a supreme bowling display on the fourth day of the third Test at the Kia Oval.

The home side bowled South Africa out for 169 to leave 130 required for a 2-1 triumph.

England’s bowlers collectively used the prodigious movement on offer, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes taking three wickets each, James Anderson and Ollie Robinson both claiming two.

In a frantic start to the chase that made a Sunday finish a possibility, England raced to 97-0 in 17 overs and were only halted by the fading light.

Zak Crawley reached his fifty from 36 balls, his first half-century in 17 Test innings, and ended 57 not out. He will return alongside Alex Lees, who is unbeaten on 32, with 33 more required for victory.

That was the second time in the day England had batted, their first innings earlier wrapped up for 158.

After resuming on 154-7, England lost the final three wickets for four runs in 16 legal deliveries, part of an overall collapse of six wickets for 29 runs.

South Africa wiped out the deficit of 40 for the loss of only one wicket, and were arguably in charge at 83-1, until England’s skilful bowlers got to work.

England on brink after see-saw day

England were in real danger of wasting a strong position on a day when The Oval continued to show respect to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – black armbands are still being worn, images of the Queen continue to be shown on the big screens and much of the signage around the ground remains black.

South Africa dominated the morning, as England meekly lost their last three wickets in only 13 minutes before the Proteas moved ahead by lunch.

However, as the ball swung in the afternoon, the hosts cut through a South Africa batting line-up that could not find a way to cling on.

The prospect of England winning on Sunday, after only two days of play, was raised when they were left with around 100 minutes to reach their target.

The intention was clear in a frenetic start as Crawley and Lees were swept along by the growing belief of a rapt crowd.

England took 27 from the first three overs, an approach entirely in keeping with their summer revolution under captain Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.

The light faded and the tension rose. Crawley kept England on track until the umpires intervened to boos from the spectators.

Bowlers set up victory push

This was another relentless display by the England bowlers, who have allowed South Africa a total in excess of 179 only once in five innings this series.

South Africa lost their last nine wickets for 86, a collapse started by an error of judgement from captain Dean Elgar, who failed to review an lbw decision off Broad when the ball would have missed leg stump.

Broad was rewarded for attacking the stumps. Ryan Rickelton was also lbw and Keshav Maharaj bowled, Broad climbing to 566 Test wickets, fifth on the all-time list and second in terms of seamers, behind only Anderson.

Stokes hooped the ball throughout. He had earlier taken the first wicket – Sarel Erwee caught at first slip – before the captain returned for a marathon spell either side of tea when he bowled Marco Jansen and had Kagiso Rabada edge to third slip.

Twice Robinson got the ball to jag back from outside off stump, first to have Wiaan Mulder chop on, then for Khaya Zondo to be pinned leg before not knowing whether to play or leave.

Anderson’s first scalp was Keegan Petersen steering to third slip and he persuaded Kyle Verreynne to sky a caught and bowled for a final wicket that signalled England’s charge.

Crawley and Lees make rapid progress

The idea of England completing the chase on the fourth evening should barely have been contemplated, but Stokes’ side have regularly pushed the boundaries of what is possible.

In a hectic start, Lees was dropped first ball by fourth slip Jansen, survived a direct-hit run-out attempt, was the subject of a failed review and looped a catch just over the grasp of Maharaj.

At the other end, Crawley was playing some crisp strokes, looking more comfortable than at any other point this season.

He reached 50 with three fours in four Rabada deliveries, then was dropped at mid-wicket and edged between keeper and slip in the same Anrich Nortje over.

Just as victory was in sight, umpires Nitin Menon and Richard Kettleborough returned the same light reading recorded to end play on Saturday evening.

Still, England have taken the sting out of what could have been a tricky target and are set to reap the rewards on Monday, when entry to The Oval will be free of charge.

‘This summer has been amazing’ – reaction

England bowler James Anderson to BBC Sport: “We’ve bowled really well throughout the match. We didn’t get our rewards in the first session, but we kept hammering away bowling our best balls.

“This summer has been amazing, I have loved every minute of it. Brendon and Ben have changed the mindset of the group and Test cricket around the world. The coach and captain have been a breath of fresh air and it makes me want to carry on as long as possible.”

South Africa bowler Kagiso Rabada to BBC Sport: “England came out hard in their second innings, we did create chances. If those chances go to hand it’s a different game.

“This England side have tons of experience. We have a lot of learning to do as a team. I am excited with the prospects our young players have for the future, it’s all a learning curve. “

Former England spinner Vic Marks on Test Match Special: “It was a crazy day because England, who are going to win, had an appalling first session, losing wickets immediately before South Africa reached 70-1 at lunch.

“But it all turned in the afternoon and the key was it suddenly started swinging. Anderson and Broad got the flavour, imposed pressure and from then on England dominated the rest of the day.”

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