SA suffer huge blow on the cusp of lunch on day four against England

Ben Stokes celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Dean Elgar.
Ben Stokes celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Dean Elgar.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

South Africa suffered a huge blow on the cusp of lunch on the fourth day of the fourth cricket Test against England on Monday.

They reached lunch on 90 for two with Rassie van der Dussen (39) and captain Faf du Plessis (0) the not out batsmen.

They had made a decent enough start to their improbable pursuit of 466 with Pieter Malan the only early casualty before the usually stoic Dean Elgar fell meekly to the whims of Ben Stokes.

Elgar‚ who would have been central to the South African cause in their bid to grind out a result‚ was taken by surprise by a Stokes bouncer.

He got himself into a terrible knot and tried to fend the rising delivery but succeeded only in fending an easy looping catch back to the bowler.

It was Stokes’ second catch of the innings after he snaffled Malan in the slips off Chris Woakes. Malan contributed 24 but an innings of far greater substance was required here.

Malan drove at a Woakes delivery without conviction and Stokes moved smartly to his right to pouch the catch with the South African total on 39.

The pitch has flattened out but there will be gradual wear that England will probe later in the day if not in the fullness of time tomorrow.

In fact‚ 16 minutes before lunch England captain Joe Root brought himself on from the Corlett Drive End with a short leg‚ leg slip and short midwicket in close attention.

Van der Dussen is also in search of runs after three consecutive low scores with a sense of purpose.

Van der Dussen having played the first Root delivery from around the wicket defensively went on the offensive.

He used the reverse sweep through vacant gully off the second ball‚ the fifth was spanked through midwicket before the last was reverse swept for the third boundary of the over.

Van der Dussen‚ who boasts two half centuries in the series‚ is also in search for a score of substance and he looked in decent enough nick before the break.

In Root’s next over with long on and deep midwicket as protection‚ he hoisted the England captain with some authority onto the roof of a beverage maker’s hospitality suite.

His shot selection will be crucial between lunch and tea‚ as Du Plessis‚ in his last Test innings on South African soil‚ hopes to grind his way into higher numbers.

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