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England v South Africa, 4th Test: 5 Talking Points

Moeen Ali's all round performance was the deciding factor in the game.

England
England celebrates as South Africa’s Duanne Olivier is caught by England’s Ben Stokes. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/PA Images via Getty Images)

England won their first series under skipper Joe Root as they thrashed South Africa by 177 runs to win the fourth Test in Manchester and thereby the series by a 3-1 margin. Moeen Ali was the star performer for the home side as he did a fabulous job with both bat and ball. South Africa lost their first series in England since 1998.

The visitor’s batting left them disappointed yet again. In the entire 4 match series, only Dean Elgar managed to score a hundred. Hashim Amla got three fifties but couldn’t make a telling contribution in the series for his side. Their bowling was still better as they put England in tight positions throughout the series. In Manchester, it was Anderson and Broad who made the early inroads and helped their team secure a massive 136-run lead in the first innings.

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Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, and Ben Stokes did the hard work in the first essay when their side was struggling on the first day. Due to their gritty resistance, the hosts could get a decent score on the board and eventually, their knocks were the difference between both sides.

Let us have a look at the 5 talking points of the fourth Test in Manchester:

1) Bairstow comes to the fore

Bairstow, until this point, had a middling series but a significant contribution was missing from the English wicket-keeper. Coming to bat at 187 for 5, Bairstow sewed a valuable partnership of 65 runs with Stokes (58) to resurrect the innings. After Stokes fell, Bairstow took center stage and scored a breezy 99 to help England go past 350. He agonizingly fell short of a well-deserved hundred but Bairstow’s 99 were as good as a hundred in the circumstances. He faced 145 balls and his innings was laced with 14 fours and a six. He added 50 runs for the final wicket with James Anderson which gave England a lot of momentum.

2) Anderson shows his worth

James Anderson is one of the craftiest bowlers going around in the world. Playing at his home ground, and bowling from the end which was recently named after him, Anderson took just 3 balls to send the in-form Elgar back to the pavilion. After the early break through, Bavuma and du Plessis were taking South Africa towards safety before Anderson sent them back in the same over to break the back of the Proteas batting line up. He also removed de Bruyn four overs after in a brilliant second spell. In the end, the 35-year old returned with 4/38 and was the wrecker-in-chief as far as South Africa was concerned.

3) Root stabilizes England in second essay

Morne Morkel ran havoc with the new ball as he sent back the experienced Cook and new comer Westley early to get England on the mat at 30 for 2. Skipper Root came in at No. 4 and worked hard to get England out of the doldrums. They did have a sizeable lead but needed to give a target of at least 350 to the visitors. With wickets falling around him, Root played with great control. He did a fair bit of damage repair before he chopped one on to his own stumps to fall for a valuable 49 to go along with his 52 in the first innings.

4) Moeen Ali explodes to shut the door on South Africa

Moeen Ali was at his best when he came out to bat at No. 8 with his side reeling at 134 for 6. South Africa were threatening to force their way back into the game but Ali had other ideas. In one of the most entertaining Test innings seen in recent times, Ali slipped into fifth gear early in his innings to take the attack back to the Proteas. He was severe on Keshav Maharaj as the southpaw smashed the left-arm spinner for 3 sixes which went a fair distance. By the time stumps were drawn, England were ahead by 360 runs with Moeen remaining unbeaten on 67. On Day 4, the hosts were bowled out for 243 with Moeen unbowed on 75 off just 66 balls. His innings sucked the momentum out of South Africa, who at one stage looked like getting ahead in the game.

5) Moeen bowls England to a win

Moeen Ali picked his second five-wicket haul of the series to seal England’s win. He backed up his extraordinary batting display with a memorable spell. South Africa were going great guns at 163 for 3 with both Amla and du Plessis finding form. Moeen first picked the big wicket of Amla (83) and followed it up with the scalps of de Kock and de Bruyn to turn the match on its head within a span of 10 balls. From then on, it was all downhill for the visitors as they lost their last 7 wickets for 39 runs to give England a 177-run win. Ali finished with figures of 5/69 and deservingly won the Man of the Match award.

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