Proteas pushing hard for consolation win


South Africa paceman Kagiso Rabada struck twice in the final session to reduce England to 52 for three at stumps on day four of the fourth Test in Centurion, the tourists still needing another 330 runs on the final day to win the match.

The home team, who resumed the day on 42 for one, declared their second innings on 248 for five to leave the visitors a target of 382 to win, or to bat out an hour on Monday and four sessions on Tuesday for a draw.

James Anderson (three for 47) took two quick wickets in his second over of the morning to get the day off to a lively start and give England hope of keeping a fourth-innings target to something more realistically chaseable.

Opener Stephen Cook (25) edged a fine ball from Anderson, who has looked past his best this series and would have so enjoyed trapping AB de Villiers for his third consecutive duck just a minute later.

That De Villiers told the media before the Test that Anderson had lost a yard of pace would have made the scalp all the more delicious for Anderson.

JP Duminy (29) looked in fairly good nick until Stokes found the edge of his bat and at 106 for four the Proteas' lead was 239.

The morning session had been lively but the afternoon offered less excitement for the quiet Monday crowd as Hashim Amla (96) and Temba Bavuma (78 not out) batted the entire afternoon session at a very gentle three runs to the over.

With hindsight South Africa have probably left themselves enough time to bowl England out but as Amla and Bavuma looked to be batting for a draw themselves, many would have been frustrated by their lack of aggression.

Amla was out very soon after the tea break, just four agonising runs short of achieving a century in both innings.

Relinquishing the captaincy to focus on batting has worked well for the man who averages over 90 at this particular venue. Sadly for De Villiers the holding of the captaincy chalice has started with poison.

De Villiers did eventually declare with more than an hour to go before the close near the end of a rain break that threatened to resemble Armageddon but was more of a storm in a teacup.

Chasing 382 in a maximum of around 110 overs and with rain around was never going to be easy at a ground where 250 is the highest winning fourth innings score but, after watching Amla and Bavuma make it look so easy out there, they would have expected to work hard for wickets.

It was as if the home side were bowling on a different planet when they took the ball in hand and found immediate results.

England had not bowled often enough at the stumps, usually a good line to take when the bounce is variable, but Rabada (two for 15 from four overs) and Morkel (one for four in six overs) attacked the timber from the get go.

Alex Hales (1) failed to give the selectors a reason to keep him in their plans after a poor debut series when he failed to get his bat down to a ball from Rabada that kept a bit low.

Morkel then grasped a terrific caught and bowled chance to claim captain Cook (5) and just a few minutes later Nick Compton feather-edged a tantalising length-ball from Rabada.

His edge was so faint that he either believed that he had missed it or he believed that the Ultra Edge technology was not smart enough to pick it up but in any event his efforts to have the dismissal overturned were in vain.

At 18 for three and England were in a world of trouble.

Nick Sadleir in Centurion