Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 February 2020

Ben Stokes leads England to thrilling victory over South Africa in second Test

All-rounder claims final three wickets to seal 189-run win over stubborn hosts at Newlands

All-rounder Ben Stokes took the final three wickets as England subdued a stubborn South Africa to win a thrilling second Test by 189 runs late on Tuesday, their first win at Newlands since 1957.

Quinton de Kock and Rassie van der Dussen had frustrated England for 44 overs with a sixth wicket stand.

However, Stokes provided late drama with 8.2 overs remaining to level the four-match series ahead of the third Test starting in Port Elizabeth on January 16.

He produced an inspired spell of fast, hostile, short-pitched deliveries to have Dwaine Pretorius and Anrich Nortje caught in the slips off successive balls, before he took the final wicket when Vernon Philander was caught at gully.

The win will be especially pleasing for the way England stuck to their task on a flat fifth-day wicket, with Stokes' superb late burst providing figures of 3-35.

"A great day's play and a great Test match," England seamer Stuart Broad said. "We had to work incredibly hard, we knew we were going to have to do that.

"It was incredible discipline from South Africa throughout the day but we kept saying one bit of magic.

"We set some funky fields. One breakthrough and we could apply some pressure. You need a lot of character and skill to chase 10 wickets. We are proud of taking our chances."

Captain Joe Root described match-winner Stokes as "a world-class player" and "brilliant role model" for younger players.

"He plays 100 per cent for the team. You can put him in any situation and he will stand up for you," Root said. "He puts in an eight- or nine-over spell like that and keeps running and can change game with bat."

The match himself insisted that the man of the match should have went to Dom Sibley, for his unbeaten 133 in the second innings.

"I thought Dom put all the hard yards in," Stokes said. "He should be the one up here. Full credit should go to him.

"We have three members of the group who are 21. The future looks great for us. We showed an outstanding amount of character.

"When you have series and the first two games are results, it makes things very interesting. It's why five-day cricket should always be around. It's the best form of the game."

The only bad news on a memorable day for England was the fact record Test wicket-taker James Anderson only bowled two overs in the last two sessions due to injury.

Coach Chris Silverwood said: It's a big blow to have sombeody like that pull up. He'll be assessed overnight."

Chasing a Test record 438 to win, those thoughts did not last long, but South Africa looked – who won the first Test in Pretoria by 107 runs – relatively comfortable as they reached 237 for five with 26 overs remaining in the match.

However, for the second time in the innings a key man gave his wicket away. De Kock (50) attempted to pull a dragged down delivery from part-time leg spinner Joe Denly, but succeeded only in picking out Zak Crawley at mid-wicket.

It was an unnecessary stroke that opened the door for England and Broad removed the obdurate Van der Dussen (17 from 140 balls), it was well and truly ajar.

It was a fine bit of captaincy by Root, who placed Anderson at leg slip for the ball and Van der Dussen duly picked him out.

Stokes removed Pretorius and Nortje in successive balls and claimed the victory in front of an ecstatic Barmy Army when Vernon Philander was the last man out, caught by Ollie Pope.

South Africa had given themselves a chance with some stern resistance, not least from debutant opener Pieter Malan, who batted for 288 balls for his score of 84.

But England looked on course for victory at lunch after grabbing the key wicket of South Africa captain Faf du Plessis (19), who will be disappointed with his shot selection as he tried to take on spinner Dom Bess with a powerful sweep, but succeeded only in picking out Denly at square leg.

De Kock and Van der Dussen put up a defensive wall, but eventually England broke through to claim a hugely satisfying win.

The boys fought very hard. They bowled really well and congrats to them," De Kock said.

"We tried to push them as far as we can. Unfortunately, we fell just short. I was disappointed because we had a good partnership going and I smoked one straight to a fielder.

"What an advertisement for Test cricket. It's sad to to be on the losing side. All I asked for was a team effort and we fought hard. There has to a winner. Credit to England, they had a little bit more in the tank than we had."

Updated: January 7, 2020 08:59 PM

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