England hammered South Africa by an innings and 53 runs in the third Test to take an unbeatable 2-1 lead in the four match Test series.
England were left stranded by the last-wicket 99-run stand between Keshav Maharaj (71) and Dane Paterson (39*). The stand was finally broken by a direct hit from Sam Curran as South Africa were rolled over for 327.
The partnership between Maharaj and Paterson was a dominant one in a rather average show by South Africa’s batsmen.
South Africa added 135 runs for their last four wickets, which seemed unlikely after a poor show with the bat earlier. They were rattled by Joe Root’s four wickets on fourth day – reduced to 83 for 6 at one point.
Mark Wood and Dom Bess were in the wickets on the final day but tormentor Joe Root couldn’t repeat his heroics on the fourth day. He was taken to the cleaners by Keshav Maharaj, who hit three fours and two sixes in his one over including four byes. His one over costed 28 runs.
A thumping loss for South Africa has now left plenty of questions, including speculations over Faf du Plessis’ retirement from Test cricket. Though, du Plessis has expressed his intentions to lead South Africa in T20 World Cup in Australia, there are chances that the next Test could be his final on the home soil.
This was South Africa’s seventh defeat in their last eight Tests. They were handed a 3-0 drubbing in India after a disastrous World campaign, which had led to plenty of changes in their cricket board. The only win came against England in the first Test at Centurion which had indicated a beginning of the new dawn in South Africa’s cricket.
A resurgent England team bounced back hard from the defeat in the first Test. They won the second Test at Newlands by 189 runs before youngsters Ollie Pope and Dom Bess impressed in a comprehensive innings win at Port Elizabeth. Pope, whose batting style is similar to Ian Bell, struck a hundred of the highest class before holding on to six catches in a Test.
Bess took five wickets in the first innings, which was his first-ever five wicket haul in the longest format.
England are clear favorites heading into the final Test at the Wanderers. South Africa’s batting resources are lacking form, while Kagiso Rabada will be sitting out for his over-the-top celebration over Root’s dismissal.
Changes are expected in the South African side as selectors have called up Temba Bavuma, Keegan Petersen, all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo and left-arm quick Beuran Hendricks for the fourth and final Test.