Moeen Ali celebrates the wicket of Quinton de Kock. Photo: @englandcricket via Twitter

MANCHESTER – South Africa’s two senior batsmen staged a gritty fightback in the middle session of the fourth day of the final Test against England on Monday.

But the dismissal of Hashim Amla 20 minutes before tea gave the English renewed hope about finishing this series on Monday evening.

Amla and Faf du Plessis added 123 in a fourth-wicket stand that stabilised the touring team’s innings after the loss of three wickets before the lunch break.

However, just as England were starting to get worried, with the Proteas pair beginning to dominate – Amla had lifted in Moeen Ali into the Old Pavilion for six – the off-spinner struck.

Amla went back to a quicker ball from Moeen and was trapped in front. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena said ‘not out’, but England, with Jonny Bairstow very much the loudest, called for a review.

That showed the ball hitting Amla in front, although there was an indeterminate scratch on ‘UltraEdge’.

Amla had scored 83, which had taken him just over three hours and included 13 fours and the six off Moeen.

With England spirits now lifted, Moeen, like he did when batting on Sunday, drew energy from a sparse but vocal crowd and induced a false stroke from Quinton de Kock.

He floated one up wide of off-stump, asking De Kock to drive and which the left-hander duly did but edged to Alastair Cook, who took a good low catch at second slip.

Theunis de Bruyn got in a mess and nicked Moeen to Stokes at slip two balls later, and where at one stage South Africa looked like they would drag the match into the final day – where rain is a distinct possibility – now they will do well to survive the final session.

At tea, captain Du Plessis was not out on 60 off 81 balls, another stoic effort, which while he combined with Amla had raised South African spirits.

The Proteas, having been 163/3 just 20 minutes before tea, found themselves 182/6 at the interval, with Moeen picking up 3/5 in 11 balls.

England were earlier bowled out for 243, setting South Africa a target of 380.

Moeen finished unbeaten on 75 off 66 balls, hitting 13 fours and three sixes.