LONDON - England claimed three South African wickets to leave the visitors teetering at 25/3 at tea on the fourth day of the first Test on Sunday.
It was a horrible little period for the tourists which may also signal the end of JP Duminy’s Test career.
England were bowled out for 233 about 40 minutes after lunch, leaving South Africa a nigh on impossible target of 331 to win the game in five-and-a-half sessions.
More realistically of course, England have the time to pick up 10 wickets and give Joe Root his first win as England captain in his first match in the position.
They struck three massive blows in the 13 overs they bowled in the afternoon session.
This is a very tough pitch to bat on, with balls bouncing inconsistently, while there is also plenty of turn for the spinners, but South Africa contrived to gift their wickets to the English.
Heino Kuhn could only give a rueful smile as he glanced a ball down the leg-side off James Anderson’s bowling, providing Jonny Bairstow the opportunity to move swiftly to his left and snap up a neat catch one-handed.
Kuhn had made nine and with the initiative now with England, the last thing South Africa wanted was to give them another present, but that’s exactly what stand-in skipper Dean Elgar did. He shuffled down the pitch to Moeen Ali and chipped the ball straight back to the bowler to be out for just two.
JP Duminy, who wears the look of man bereft of any confidence, played an ugly and nervy innings, and having gotten off the mark with a neat clip through the covers then played an awful pull shot, hitting the ball straight to Moeen at square leg.
It was a sharp catch, but the choice of shot and its execution were terrible, and there now appears to be no way Duminy should hang on to his starting spot for the second Test.
Faf du Plessis has rejoined the squad and he’s had a couple of sessions in the nets here as he seeks to find some rhythm ahead of the Trent Bridge game.
England had earlier scored a bit more freely post lunch following a difficult first session in which they lost seven for 63, with Morné Morkel and Keshav Maharaj to the fore for the Proteas.
However after lunch, Jonny Bairstow, who was dropped on five by Vernon Philander, in combination with Mark Wood added 45 for the ninth wicket, their partnership effectively ending whatever glimmer of hope South Africa had about pulling off an unlikely win.
Philander’s error was a costly one as Bairstow went on to make 51 before being stumped by Quinton de Kock off Maharaj’s bowling.
The left-arm spinner finished with 4/85 from 32 overs ,while Morkel took 3/64 and Kagiso Rabada, who’s been suspended from the second Test, picked up 3/50.