Hashim Amla managed to survive a torrid session before lunch. Photo: Reuters

MANCHESTER – South Africa were accelerating towards a first series defeat in England for 19 years when they lost two wickets before lunch in the first session of the fourth day against England on Monday.

The Proteas’ struggling batting line-up were left facing 189 overs and a target of 380 after England had been bowled out for 243 inside the first 15 minutes of play.

Already that target is 19 runs more than the highest total South Africa have scored in this series, and with the batsmen lacking confidence and the pitch breaking up, it’s virtually impossible.

South Africa were in deep trouble at lunch on 40/3, with just Hashim Amla able to survive a harrowing morning, which had been interrupted for 48 minutes by rain. Amla was not out on 11.

It was Morné Morkel who wrapped up England’s innings, claiming the wickets of Stuart Broad and James Anderson to finish as South Africa’s leading wicket-taker for the series with 19 at an average of 26.36.

Moeen Ali, who’d thrilled the crowd on Sunday, was left unbeaten on 75 off just 66 balls, having struck nine fours and three sixes.

The highest score to win a Test here was by England in 2008 when they scored 294/4 to beat New Zealand.

But that pitch was nowhere near as worn down as this surface, with bounce inconsistent and lots of rough for Moeen to target, particularly outside the left-hander’s off-stump at the James Anderson End.

England’s opening bowlers Anderson and Broad needed none of that to dismiss the Proteas’ opening batsmen – both of whom went into bat carrying injuries.

Dean Elgar, with fingers on both hands bruised, was dismissed by Broad, who bowled a stunning set of deliveries at the left-hander.

Broad jagged one in to hit Elgar on the bicep, and then two away which beat the outside edge before the fourth ball held its line and kissed the outside edge of Elgar’s bat after he’d scored five.

Kuhn, playing what is likely to be his last Test innings, never looked comfortable as he struggled to transfer weight on to his left leg, which is heavily strapped.

He looks like he is carrying an injury that is much worse than the tight hamstring which team management described earlier in the match, and was a lamb to the slaughter for Anderson.

Eventually Kuhn forced off the back foot – he should have been forward – and edged the ball to Alastair Cook at first slip.

Kuhn ended the series with an aggregate of 113 runs and an average of 14.12, and the next time South Africa play a Test match, his place is likely to go to his Titans teammate Aiden Markram.

The Proteas lost their third wicket in the final over before lunch when Toby Roland-Jones found a thin outside edge on Temba Bavuma’s bat – so thin in fact the bowler didn’t appeal and the umpire Kumar Dharmasena didn’t hear – but on review, England got rewarded, with Bavuma out for 12.