Proteas’ fierce resistance crumbles as England level the series at Newlands
CAPE TOWN – They fought valiantly, but the Proteas eventually surrendered to England to lose the second Test by 189 runs at Newlands on Tuesday.
In an absorbing final day’s play, England were hot favourites to level the four-match series at 1-1, but they were met with fierce resistance by the South African batting line-up.
At the start of the final session of the match, the hosts needed to survive for 31 overs, while the visitors needed five more wickets to clinch victory.
The South Africans were looking good with Quinton de Kock and Rassie van der Dussen at the crease.
The left-hander played an enterprising innings despite the tense situation, and reached his 19th Test half-century.
But De Kock (50 off 120 balls, 7x4) gave his wicket away when an innocuous long-hop from part-time leg-spinner Joe Denly – the England No 3 batsman – saw the Proteas wicket-keeper pull the ball straight to Zak Crawley at midwicket.
That was the last big gun that England needed to remove, and that breakthrough proved to be the crucial one.
Van der Dussen last five more overs before he was undone by a smart bit of captaincy from England leader Joe Root, who employed a leg gully, and the very next ball, the Proteas right-hander clipped it into James Anderson’s hands to be out for 17.
There was still a slight chance that South Africa could hold on when the final hour commenced and 15 overs had to be negotiated.
But in the space of two balls, Dwaine Pretorius edged Ben Stokes to slip, where Root took a low catch, and Anrich Nortje did the same – this time Crawley knocking the ball up and reclaiming the catch.
Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada tried their best to save the match, and kept the English bowlers at bay for another four overs.
But Stokes (3/35 in 23.5 overs) produced a superb delivery to Philander that took off from a good length, and the ball looped to Ollie Pope at slip to seal the victory.
The third Test will start on January 16 at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.@ashfakmohamed