CAPE TOWN, A late James Anderson wicket gave England a timely boost as South Africa began the mountainous challenge of chasing down 438 in the Cape Town Test against England on day four on Monday.
After England declared on 391/8 20 minutes into the second session, South Africa openers Dean Elgar and Pieter Malan blunted the new-ball threats of James Anderson and Stuart Broad in dogged style through to the evening session.
With footmarks offering grip and turn, it took an unlikely source to prize a breakthrough for England, with the part-time leg-spin of Joe Denly working wonders. England’s No 3 spun one sharply into the forward prod of Elgar, and a faint edge was gobbled up by Jos Buttler behind the stumps.
It seemed for quite some time that Denly’s intervention was to be England’s only wicket of the day, with Malan’s solid forward defence a hallmark of his second Test innings, taking him to a maiden Test half-century, while Zubayr Hamza resisted valiantly in the face of some testing bowling from Ben Stokes.
Forever young Anderson had some magic left in him for a final burst, though, prizing Hamza’s outside edge to force the introduction of nightwatchman Keshav Maharaj. South Africa survived any further damage to finish the day on 126/2.
Nevertheless, day five will remain an almighty challenge, with 312 runs needed to pull off an unprecedented chase. England have a number of players to thank for giving them so much breathing space, namely the two stars of the morning: Dom Sibley and Ben Stokes.
Having carefully compiled 85 on day three, Sibley took himself to a well-deserved maiden Test century with a sweep off Keshav Maharaj.
Yet it was the man celebrating at the other end with him was who caused South Africa the most bother. With England searching for a declaration, Ben Stokes was at the races from the get-go, running the opposition attack ragged with a freewheeling 72 from 47 balls.
Jos Buttler added a quick 23, but it wasn’t until Stuart Broad joined the irremovable Sibley that Joe Root had seen enough. England will enter Tuesday knowing that although the pitch is offering little to their seamers, time and the weight of runs are on their side.
Source: African News Agency