Moeen blast steers England towards victory
England marched on to take the game away from South Africa on the third day of this 4th Investec Test Match at Emirates Old Trafford.
Moeen Ali produced a sparkling unbeaten innings of 67, while Joe Root contributed 49, to steer England to an unassailable-looking lead of 360 with two wickets still in hand.
England first had to take the final wicket of the South African innings when play resumed, and this took just 3.4 overs before Duanne Olivier was last out, caught off a top edge pulling at a short ball from Stuart Broad. That gave the Notts paceman figures of 3-46 leaving James Anderson with a Manchester Test-best 4-38.
South Africa’s poor total of 226 meant they trailed by the huge margin of 136 runs on a wearing wicket that continues to aid the bowlers.
England lost Alastair Cook for 10 and Tom Westley for 9, both caught at gully off Morne Morkel and just reward for a hostile eight over spell from the James Anderson End that induced several false shots from the top order batsmen.
Keaton Jennings took 16 runs to get off the mark having been dropped by a diving Dean Elgar at third slip but he settled in as the session developed, reverse sweeping Keshav Maharaj for four the ball after surviving a fairly optimistic lbw review while his third boundary, a well-timed drive through cover off Duanne Olivier brought up England’s fifty, shortly before lunch.
Unfortunately Jennings failed to progress after the break, edging his second delivery of the afternoon from Kagiso Rabada to Hashim Amla at first slip to be out for 18 with England 55-3.
Dawid Malan had made just 6 when he gave Theunis de Bruyn a straightforward bat/pad catch off Maharaj to leave England wobbling slightly at 72-4 despite their first innings lead.
It took a good partnership of 57 in 13 overs between Root and Ben Stokes to steady matters during the afternoon. The pair swept successfully at Maharaj and picked off boundaries from anything wayward from the seamers and their alliance took England’s lead past the 250-mark midway through the day.
Olivier hit back with a 5 over spell of 3-22, Root chopping on for 49 after getting a ball that kept slightly low, Stokes edging to Faf du Plessis at first slip for 23 and Jonny Bairstow top edged a pull to Rabada at fine leg to depart for 10 just before tea to leave England on 153-7.
Moeen inside edged his first ball for 4 and survived another near-miss when he was dropped at slip by Elgar off Maharaj but after the break went on the attack.
The left handed batsman hit Maharaj for three sixes- the second caught on the dressing room balcony by Bairstow-and 8 fours in a sparkling innings of 67 not out from just 59 balls.
Moeen’s thrilling assault took the lead racing past the 350 mark, adding 58 for the 8th wicket with Toby Roland-Jones who contributed 11.
Rain took the players off for the day soon afterwards with England on 224-8 and their massive lead of 360 has surely put the result of this match, and the series, beyond doubt.
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
England v South Africa tickets - Day Four
Tickets are still on sale for Day Four of the England v South Africa fourth Investec Test Match at Emirates Old Trafford – starting from £20 for adults and £5 for juniors.
It's also Big Red Day where the Club is donating 20% of all ticket sales to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. Supporters are also encouraged to wear red to support England on Day 4 in Manchester.
Secure your tickets for the Investec Test as England look to lift the series trophy at Emirates Old Trafford.