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England wins toss and bats in final test vs. South Africa

05 Agosto 2017, 11:28 | Cornelio Vivanco

Joe Root hailed the character of his England side after victory in the third Test at The Oval

Joe Root hailed the character of his England side after victory in the third Test at The Oval

England have already retained the Basil D'Oliveira Trophy, but a series win would be a notable first feather in the cap for new captain Joe Root who has experienced a full range of emotions at the start of his reign.

I'd imagine that the initial goal for South Africa will be to do everything in their power to restrict England to a score around the 300 mark.

England's Jonny Bairstow was "desperately disappointed" not to reach his hundred after being given out lbw on 99 during the second day of the fourth Test.

The 26-year-old has clearly not suffered any dip in form since inheriting the blazer this summer but the failure of newer faces around him mean England routinely need more than mere fifties from him to make up for other shortcomings. "I saw the Sat and Sun of the Trent Bridge test which was not great from an England fan point of view, but overall I think we deserve to be 2-1 up", writes Jim Procter-Blain.

"We can hopefully go forward tomorrow and really press on with the bat".

He and Kuhn went about the task steadily without ever looking like wresting back the initiative from England's attack.

Bairstow was 33 not out, having survived a contentious umpire review for a slip catch when he'd made a mere four runs.

And at the end of the first day, South Africa had done a decent job in covering for his absence.

Westley, in just his second Test, walked out to join Essex colleague Cook with England 35 for one in the 13th over.

Less than a week ago, Vernon Philander was nearly a hero. South Africa, who earlier dominated in the match, brought some changes in their game plan but Bairstow looked unstoppable, picking gaps wonderfully.

There haven't been too many days where everything has clicked for South Africa on this tour, but one constant, shining light has been the spin of Keshav Maharaj. But it was the spin of Maharaj that made the next big breakthrough, half an hour after the resumption.

They became the first team in Test history to see four of their batsmen - du Plessis, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel - dismissed for "golden ducks".

Morkel will resume on 18 not out on the third day.

De Kock had dropped opposing wicket-keeper Bairstow on 53, a costly error, but there was no returning the favour when he nicked Broad to the Yorkshireman on 24.

At the close of an absorbing day, England were 260 for six, but Root missed the chance to dominate the day and put his team in charge.

"It looks as though it's a wicket where the bowlers are always in it".

"There a few expletives I am not allowed to say!" And yet, on 52, and with a lazy afternoon of accumulation yawning in front of him, he galloped down the pitch to Olivier and fell lbw to a one-day waft through midwicket.

"I think both of them are quality players, both could fit that position equally", he said.

In April, a groin strain interrupted his county stint at Sussex, planned to prepare him for this trip, and kept him off the field for more than a month. Its importance to England can not be underestimated, as he led by example, showed his teammates how to bat in testing circumstances and set them on the path to victory.

But victory at Old Trafford would at least ensure South Africa maintain a proud away Test record.



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