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'We're heading in the right direction' - Root hails England's complete performance
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'We're heading in the right direction' - Root hails England's complete performance

Joe Root heaped praise on England's methodical display in the third Test against South Africa, which saw the visitors clinch the contest by a margin of an innings and 53 runs.

England's victory was built upon a mammoth first-innings total followed by a remarkable spell of bowling from Dom Bess that consigned the Proteas to a follow-on where they endured another batting collapse.

"It was a brilliant template for us moving forward as a team," Root said after England achieved a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.

"Big first innings runs and then we really drove the game from that point forward."

Root, who emerged as the unlikely hero with the ball in South Africa's second innings, said he was impressed with the younger players stamping their authority in foreign conditions.

The rookie opening duo of Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley laid the foundation with a resolute stand before man of the match Ollie Pope bolstered England's grip on the proceedings with a double century partnership alongside Ben Stokes.

The trio's stellar performances along with 22-year-old Bess' first five-wicket haul bodes well for the future of England's Test unit.

"It’s exactly what we are after in terms of our development as a team moving forward. It fills the whole group with a massive amount of confidence," Root said.

England's charge towards the dominant win was slightly delayed on the final morning of the Test owing to a 99-run stand between Keshav Maharaj and Dane Paterson for the last wicket.

Maharaj, in particular, showcased dogged resistance with the bat and raced into the record books by launching Root for 28 runs in over.

However, the England skipper dismissed any signs of unease and admitted the team was clear in terms of the targets they had set for themselves.

"But we're heading in the right direction. We’ve got a group of players who are willing to learn and we're very clear on how we want to play."

'England are showing us how to apply yourself' - Faf du Plessis

South Africa's struggle in the Test format has seen them face defeat in seven of their last eight games.

Once again overpowered by a much more disciplined England side, Proteas captain Faf du Plessis conceded the tourists demonstrated better skills with the bat.

"I think we are doing well as a bowling unit but from a batting point of view, England are showing us how to apply yourself, how to get yourself in and how to score runs. I think that is the only difference between the teams."

The home team witnessed a strong start to the series but all the momentum gained from the first game's win has now fizzled away, leaving them in a precarious spot in the World Test Championship.

Also Read: Du Plessis dismisses rumours of retirement, commits to playing T20 World Cup

"We made huge strides in that first Test match, mostly from a confidence point of view," said du Plessis.

"I felt like we turned a corner. I feel like we are taking a step backward in this Test, especially from a batting point of view."

Much to the dismay of South Africa, they will now be without their pace bowling spearhead Kagiso Rabada in the must-win clash at Johannesburg.

Rabada copped a ban following the accumulation of his demerit points to four after he enthusiastically celebrated Root's wicket.

"It is one massive Test where we need everyone to be as strong as possible to try to draw the series."

"It's frustration," he said. "Now we go into a seriously important Test without our best bowler."