JOHANNESBURG - The Proteas set England a mammoth target of 474 to win the second Test, as the host finished 1/0 at the close of play on day three at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Sunday.
When Faf du Plessis finally declared, leaving his bowlers four overs to attack the England batsmen before the close, the home side began the fourth innings which could total 184 overs.
Alastair Cook survived a reviewed decision off the first ball of England’s second innings delivered by Morne Morkel. He was given out lbw by umpire Paul Reiffel, but the review showed the ball missing the stumps.
Of the two targets the Proteas would have set themselves, occupying the crease for most of the day would have been the more important one. As the day’s play unfolded deliveries were starting to get up and down with Du Plessis being dismissed leg before wicket by a delivery from Ben Stokes that hit him on the ankle.
Bearing in mind the fact that England have five left-handers among their top seven batsmen they would not have been pleased to see their own left arm spinner, Liam Dawson, extract both turn and bounce to Morkel with a delivery that he pitched into the bowler’s rough outside the left-hander’s leg stump.
The Proteas now have two full days to complete the job and achieve a series-levelling victory.
Du Plessis was a member of the last squad in England in 2012, but did not get a game. His contribution included an innings of 63 on Sunday (128 balls, 9 fours) as he cemented the foundation that had been laid by Dean Elgar (80 off 136 balls, 12 fours) and Hashim Amla (87 off 180 balls, 14 fours and a six).
The latter’s second wicket partnership of 133 was the highest in the match to date with the only other three-figure stand being the 113 between Amla and Quinton de Kock in the first innings.
Vernon Philander also contributed with his 42 (75 balls, 3 fours and 2 sixes) before being out on the declaration trying to hit Moeen Ali for a third successive six.
Philander currently has a series batting average of 55.66 and has made the number seven position his own for the foreseeable future.
Moeen had the best bowling figures for England of 4/78 although the honours on their side probably belonged to Stokes and Jimmy Anderson who took two wickets each.
African News Agency (ANA)