Proteas beat England, end five-match losing streak
South Africa 284 and 272
England 181 and 268
PRETORIA – The Proteas brought a five-match losing streak to a close beating England by 107 runs at SuperSport Park on Sunday to lead the series 1-0.
England made a valiant effort chasing what would have been the highest fourth-innings total to win a Test in South Africa.
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis said breaking the drought would give the national team’s turnaround a shot in the arm.
“We knew we needed to put in some good performances to get the thing running and thought we were good in all the departments,” Du Plessis said.
“It is a good start and we needed a good start to get our confidence back as a Test team.”
The tourists went into the lunch interval on 171 for three at the lunch break needing 205 runs to win.
But it all went spectacularly wrong for the English in the next session with South Africa bagging the next seven wickets for a desperately needed Test win.
South African spearhead Kagiso Rabada was on song bagging three wickets before the tea interval sending Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran and Stuart Broad to the change room. Rabada wrapped up the second innings with figures of 4 for 103 off 24 overs.
The victory is a promising step in the right direction for new coach Mark Boucher and a management team.
England is expected to be at full strength for the New Year’s Test at Newlands after a stomach bug wreaked havoc in the camp.
The visitors added 97 runs after lunch but once the dam wall broke the scale tipped in South Africa’s favour.
Spin bowler Keshav Maharaj found the breakthrough with Ben Stokes hitting a bottom-edge onto the stumps with England on 204 for four.
The new ball coupled by some superb seam bowling provided South Africa with enough ammunition to claim the victory.
The new ball ultimately dispatched England’s last six wickets in 11.5 overs with the tourists adding only 46 runs to their chase.
England’s last six wickets fell courtesy of the new ball with Rabada proving to be the chief destroyer.
Jonny Bairstow dispatching the first ball for four before the South African fast bowler induced the edge with Zubayr Hamza taking the catch at gully.
The departure of England captain Joe Root signalled their collapse with the visitors losing their remaining four wickets off 32 deliveries.
Root represented England’s last stand scoring 48 runs off 101 balls before he edged an Anrich Nortje delivery to the keeper.
Nortje will cherish the Test for his efforts with both the ball and bat scoring a crucial 40 runs as nightwatchman in South Africa’s second innings.
His aggressive bowling claimed the crucial scalps of Root and Rory Burns (84), who kept England’s fightback alive.
“What impressed me a lot was his control, we know he has pace and bounce but the control he bowled with for large periods of his spell was good which is pleasing for us,” Du Plessis said.
“We need one or two bowlers to put their hands up and there will be a few spots opening up with Vernon Philander going away. We need a fast-bowling group we can rely on.”
Philander was one of the Proteas’ star players in the Test which included an impressive first inning of 4 for 16 off 14.2 overs. The South African stalwart will retire from international cricket after the series.
Quinton de Kock was named man of the match thanks to his knocks of 95 and 34 while he took a record six catches in the first innings.
“As a team we don’t have a lot of superstars, you could say guys like KG (Rabada) and Vern (Philander) are in their own right but as a team you take a lot more from victories where everyone contributes in they own way,” Du Plessis said.
“Small things like Nortje getting 40 with the bat is even more pleasing because those are the kind of things that put the opposition down. Our bowling unit was exceptional.”