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31-Jul-2017 02:47:00 GMT
England v South Africa, 3rd Test, The Oval, day 4

England close in on victory over South Africa

London: Ben Stokes took two wickets in two balls to leave England eyeing victory in the third Test against South Africa at The Oval on Sunday.

South Africa were 117 for four at stumps on the fourth day, needing a further 375 runs to reach a colossal target of 492 -- the most made to win in the fourth innings of a Test is the West Indies' 418 for seven against Australia at St John's in 2003.

One consolation for the Proteas was the fight shown by Dean Elgar (72 not out) and Temba Bavuma (16 not out), who kept England at bay after joining forces with their side in dire trouble at 52 for four.

The 100th Test at The Oval is turning into a personal triumph for Stokes after he laid the platform for England's dominant position with 112 in a first-innings total of 353.

A draw on Monday -- which would ensure this see-saw four-match series remained level at 1-1 ahead of next week's finale at Old Trafford -- is not yet beyond South Africa, who thrashed England by 340 runs in the second Test at Trent Bridge.

Elgar has a badly bruised finger but Proteas assistant coach Adrian Birrell insisted the left-handed opener would be fit to bat.

Earlier, Toby Roland-Jones's dream debut then continued when, for the second time this Test, he had star batsman Amla out in single figures.

Amla had made just five when, trying to withdraw his bat, he saw the ball fly low off the face to Root at second slip.

Replays confirmed the catch and Amla, caught behind off Roland-Jones for six as the Middlesex seamer took five for 57 in the Proteas' meagre first innings 175, was on his way.

It was a far cry from five years ago at The Oval when Amla, now 34, struck South Africa's Test-record score of 311 not out.

Dangerman de Kock only managed five before he was bowled by an excellent Stokes yorker.

Next ball South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was out for a golden duck after he padded up to Stokes.

Du Plessis, who'd fallen in similar fashion to James Anderson for just one in the first innings, reviewed but to no avail.

Durham all-rounder Stokes was on a hat-trick at the start of his next over. Bavuma denied him that prize before Elgar completed a 77-ball fifty.

The only thing missing for England on a great day was a wicket for birthday boy Anderson, their all-time most successful Test bowler, who turned 35 on Sunday.

At the other end of the experience spectrum, England debutant number three Tom Westley made a maiden Test fifty after resuming on 28 not out.

Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, with a run-a-ball fifty, then kept the runs coming against a tiring attack.

Brief scores
England -
353 (Stokes 112, Cook 88) and 313/8d (Bairstow 63, Westley 59, Root 50)
South Africa - 175 (Bavuma 52, Roland-Jones 5-57) and 117/4 (Elger 72*)
Status - South Africa need 375 runs to win


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