Stuart Hess at the Oval
A gutsy half-century by Temba Bavuma helped South Africa avoid the follow-on but England remain firmly in control of the third Test as rain halted play 20 minutes before lunch on Saturday.
At that stage England were 20/0, with Alastair Cook on six and Keaton Jennings, who was dropped on six by Dean Elgar at third slip, on 10. Their lead is 198.
Before Bavuma and Morne Morkel resumed South Africa’s first innings on the overnight score of 126/8, there was some good news for the tourists and specifically all-rounder Vernon Philander.
He was released from hospital in the morning having spent the night there on a drip to help him overcome what was later diagnosed as a viral infection.
Philander would eventually spend 20 minutes at the crease and bowl two overs, in which he again had the better of a nervous looking Jennings.
Before that though, Bavuma lit up the session with a well crafted, fifty that said plenty about his character and technique.
He drove the ball beautifully when offered the opportunity, but showed his discipline by leaving well too.
In the process he want passed 1000 Test runs, while also registering his eight Test half-century, his third against England to go along with that memorable century he made at Newlands at the start of 2016.
Morne Morkel provided some good support bashing a couple of boundaries on the way to 17, while sharing a 47-run stand for the ninth wicket with Bavuma.
Morkel fell to a good delivery by James Anderson, who slanted the ball across the left-hander and which he edged to Alastair Cook at first slip.
Bavuma completed his half-century with a deft glance through the third man, but he too fell to an excellent delivery by Toby Roland-Jones the ball remaing away off the surface, with Bavuma edging the bal behind. He made 52, which came off 120 balls and included eight fours.
That wicket brought Roland-Jones his fifth for the innings, making him the 47th English player to achieve that on his debut and the first since Adil Rashid against pakistan two years ago.
England ended with a lead of 178, a substantial advantage although how much they’ll get to build on it this afternoon, will be dependent on the weather. The forecast is not good for the rest of Saturday, but Sunday and Monday the sun is supposed to shine.