Five-star Steyn finishes demolition job

England

South African fast bowler Dale Steyn reaffirmed his status as the world's best Test bowler with a second-innings five-for to resign England to an embarrassing innings and 12-run defeat on day five of the series opener at The Oval on Monday.

South African fast bowler Dale Steyn reaffirmed his status as the world's best Test bowler with a second-innings five-for to resign England to an embarrassing innings and 12-run defeat on day five of the series opener at The Oval.

Resuming on 102 for four overnight and sporting plenty of ambition to, at least, make the Proteas bat again, the home side instead slumped to 240 all out – and a one-nil deficit in the three-match series.

The tourists' attack struggled in the first session on Monday, taking just one wicket, but the arrival of the second new ball brought the remaining five needed for an emphatic triumph shortly before tea over the world's number one-ranked Test nation.

Hashim Amla's record-breaking triple-century and a majestic 183 not out from Jacques Kallis largely removed the proverbial wind from England's sails on Sunday, but the job still had to be finished come the new week.

Steyn, leading from the front and with Imran Tahir by his side, duly delivered. Castling Ravi Bopara before lunch and later removing Ian Bell, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann in relatively quick succession, the right-arm fast bowler screamed to the 19th five-wicket haul of his prolific Test career.

Bell and Prior's 86-run stand for the sixth wicket threatened to derail the Proteas' progress, but the latter's departure to Tahir on the sweep, sparked a capitulation that saw the English lose their last five wickets for a mere 37 runs.

Tahir's role in complementing the out-and-out speed of Steyn was always going to be an important one on a day-five pitch offering plenty of turn. The animated leg-spinner proved up to the challenge entirely, and was almost fittingly at hand to hammer the final nail into the hosts' coffin.

Outfoxing tail-ender James Anderson with a delivery that admittedly kept low, Tahir finished with a innings haul of three for 63 – his true value, though, extended well beyond his modest figures.

Andrew Strauss' men will be left with plenty of questions, none more pressing than the inadequacy of their seam attack in conditions void of much swing and seam. Their tail, meanwhile, appears a touch too long if Bresnan is to continue batting at eight in the order.

South Africa, though, have promptly put a trying first day at The Oval and allegations of being underprepared behind them with an utterly resounding performance. While they'll be the first to ward off talk of rising to the helm of the Test rankings until the mace is actually in their hands, skipper Smith and coach Gary Kirsten's are now the firm favourites to win the series.

This is the Proteas' first ever Test victory at The Oval, while England are left to lick the wounds of their first innings defeat in three years. The margin might have been even bigger, had AB de Villiers not shelled a catch offered by Bell, who ultimately reached 55, was on 20.

Amla, for his historic 311 not out, was rightly named Man of the Match. Smith, in the interim before the second Test, which gets underway at Headingley on 2 August, will jet back to South Africa to be with his wife for the birth of his first child.

<b>Jonhenry Wilson</b>

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