Brief Scores: England 458 and 182/8 (Alastair Cook 69; Morne Morkel 3/37, Keshav Maharaj 3/65) lead South Africa 361, by 279 runs.
The session saw England lose seven wickets for a total of 63 runs. But it could have all been even better for South Africa had they not shot themselves in the foot with yet another dropped catch. Riding high on the momentum of quick wickets, South Africa could have had Jonny Bairstow as well for just 7, with England’s lead just 254 when Vernon Philander dropped an absolute dolly off the bowling of Keshav Maharaj.
Bairstow rubbed salt into the wounds by tonking Maharaj for three boundaries in his next over. But once again, South Africa stemmed this momentum by picking quick wickets. Maharaj, exploiting the rough outside off, castled Moeen Ali for 7 while Kagiso Rabada’s high full toss got the better of Liam Dawson in the next over. Maharaj made sure that the impact of the dropped catch was stemmed to a large extent by getting Stuart Broad for a first ball duck as well.
The session was running on high octane with the wicket splurge as both sides punched and counter-punched to stave the other one off. South Africa went in slightly happier with the way the game was placed, just going by the session. England went in with an overall lead of 279, but had lost the position of dictating terms.
Cook finally fell for 69, after a job well done. His knock ensured that there was no opening for South Africa to try and get back into the game, or so it seemed then. England were now on the lookout for quicker runs and Cook’s 69 of 192 wasn’t the tempo they were after. In came Joe Root, dancing down the track first ball against Morne Morkel, spelling out intent right from the outset. But the cat and mouse game got trickier with Morkel producing a peach to get rid of Ballance as well in his next over. Suddenly, South Africa had a glimmer of hope.