ENG v SA, 2nd Test, Day 3, Review: South Africa in the driver’s seat as England chase history

Fifties from Elgar, Amla and du Plessis helped the visitors to set a huge target for the hosts to chase.

Hashim Amla England v South Africa
England wicketkeeper Jonathan Bairstow looks on as Hashim Amla dances down the wicket to hit Dawson for four. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

England needs to make history if they are to win the second Test at Trent Bridge. The visitors grinded the English bowling to finish at 343 for 9 and set a daunting 474-run target for the home side, 56 more than the world record set by West Indies 14 years ago when they chased down 418 against the mighty Australians in Antigua.

Streaky but strong start on Day 3

Resuming the day at 75 for 1, South Africa’s imminent objective was to see off Anderson and Broad on a gloomy morning in Nottingham. Amidst the grey clouds, Elgar started promisingly, hitting Broad for back to back boundaries in his first over. He soon raised his 8th half-century in Test cricket, which was his second in as many Test matches. Amla took his time to get going, giving Elgar support at the other end. Though they were solid in their approach, both had a bit of luck early on Day 3. Amla got a faint edge off Broad which just about carried to Bairstow but England chose not review it after the umpire ruled it not out. Broad got the edge of Elgar two overs later but Anderson couldn’t hold on to a tough chance at gully.

Dawson’s introduction brought a marked change in Amla’s approach. He was down the wicket in the left-arm spinner’s first over, hitting him over his head for a boundary. In his next over, Amla decided to take him to the cleaners. The first three balls brought 10 runs – a boundary over mid on and a clean hit for six straight down the ground – which also brought the veteran’s second fifty of the game. Amla drilled one through the mid wicket region to take 14 runs from the over off Dawson.

Amla-du Plessis step up after Elgar’s departure

The 135-run stand was finally broken when Stokes bounced out Elgar for a well compiled 80. Anderson was quickly brought on by Root seeing de Kock walk out to bat at 4. The right-arm bowler worked the stumper out only on his third delivery of his spell, angling across the left-hander which took a thin edge of de Kock’s bat and was taken by Bairstow. Du Plessis started positively at No.5 as he tucked one on the leg side to open his account with a boundary on the second ball he faced. 85 runs had come in the morning session for the loss of two wickets. South Africa were 295 runs ahead and only had to drive home the advantage in the afternoon session.

Amla and du Plessis stitched a valuable partnership of 52 runs and just when the former looked set to get to triple figures, Dawson trapped Amla in front for a hard working 87. It was left to the skipper to take the lead to 400. He, too, was patient and waited for the bad balls to score his runs, taking 99 balls to get to his half-century. Bavuma played well before he lost his cool on the cusp of the second new ball. He drilled one straight to Root off Moeen to record his second failure in the game, falling for 15 after getting 20 in the first essay.

Philander shines with the bat again

Vernon Philander (42) yet again showed doggedness with the bat, helping his skipper to see the new ball off. Du Plessis finally fell to Stokes – leg before the wicket – for 63 but not before the lead stood at 408. Morris and Maharaj were quick to follow suit as Philander held one end, showing great technique. When Morkel came out to bat it was certain that the visitors wanted England to bat a few overs on Day 3. He swung hard, striking 3 crisp boundaries down the ground to remain unbeaten on 17. After batting for time, Philander hit consecutive sixes – both slog sweeps off Moeen – to add valuable runs to the South African total. He attempted a third one but could only offer an easy return catch to the bowler after the ball hit the bottom of the bat.

The visitors have perched their position in this Test after setting them an improbable target of 474. England managed to see off four overs before the stumps were drawn adding just a solitary run. They have to bat out of their skins to win it from here as saving the Test isn’t an option with 180 overs still to go in the game. The target is as arduous as climbing the Everest without oxygen but England plays their best cricket at home. The previous best total that they have successfully overhauled came back in 1928 when they chased down 332 at the MCG.

South Africa, having lost the first Test, has produced a lion-hearted performance to induce life into the series. Keshav Maharaj holds the key with the ball after the new ball bowlers toil hard in the first hour of Day 4.

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