Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 4 June 2020

Joe Root and Mark Wood put England on way to fourth Test win over South Africa

Captain's half century helps tourists set Proteas record target of 466 for victory, after fast-bowler completed his five-wicket haul at the Wanderers

Captain Joe Root made a patient half century on Sunday as England set South Africa a world record target of 466 to win the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers Stadium.

The tourists were bowled out for 248 just before stumps in their second innings, leaving them with two full days to dismiss their hosts, who will have to chase an improbable fourth-innings target if they are to win the Test and level the series at 2-2.

Fourteen wickets fell on a chaotic day that saw South Africa dismissed for 183 at lunch, 217 runs behind England’s first-innings score of 400.

Root did not enforce the follow on but instead rammed home his team’s advantage as England batted briskly in their second innings.

The Yorskshireman was the last man out, superbly caught by South African counterpart Faf du Plessis to give debutant Beuran Hendricks a maiden Test five-wicket haul.

Root scored 58 off 96 balls, Sibley made 44, Sam Curran an entertaining 35 and Ben Stokes 28 with Hendricks finishing on 5-64 off 15.3 overs.

Openers Zak Crawley and Sibley put on a 56-run opening-wicket partnership in a positive second-innings start before Crawley was out for 24.

Stokes was in belligerent mood, having been fined for verbally abusing a spectator after going cheaply in the first innings, and sought to get retribution as he raced to 28 off 24 balls, with six boundaries, before Hendricks had him caught in the slips.

Curran also made up for a first baller in the first innings as he accelerated the run rate in the last hour before being caught in the deep off Hendricks.

All the while Root kept the scoreboard ticking over to ensure South Africa will have to chase a world-record fourth innings target on a pitch where the bounce was becoming increasingly more uneven.

An England win would seal a 3-1 series success following the victories in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and, with six full sessions to go on a ground where the record chase stands at 310, any other result seems inconceivable.

South Africa were left a man down when veteran Vernon Philander pulled up with a hamstring injury after nine balls, further weakening a home attack already sorely missing the suspended Kagiso Rabada.

The 34-year-old also became the fourth cricketer to be fined and given a demerit point in the series after for using "inappropriate language" after dismissing England's Jos Buttler on Day 2. Not quite the fitting finale Philander would have been hoping for in his final Test before retiring.

Mark Wood had earlier completed a five-wicket haul as South Africa were dismissed in the morning session, adding 95 runs to their overnight score.

"I'm over the moon – a very special day. Since I lengthened my run-up I've got more momentum, which takes pressure off my body," said the Durham player, who has seen his career ravaged by injuries.

"On the days I didn't feel rhythm, I was having to force it. I was too stubborn to change it because it had worked up to a point. I wish I'd done it earlier."

And as for the manic tempo of England second innings? "It wasn't how I thought we were going to bat, it wasn't until Stokesy said, 'when I get in, I'm going to take it on.'" he said. "Personally,I'd have liked more rest. But we've got physios, masseurs ... I'll take anything I can get tonight."

They were teetering at 88-6 overnight and saw Philander dismissed with the fifth ball of the morning, but then offered a short spell of resistance as De Kock and Pretorius put on 79 runs for the eighth wicket.

South Africa head coach Mark Boucher suggested his deflated side could still emerge with a famous victory, despite his team needing a world-record mark.

"With time we've got in the game, we still have to look at going for the win," he said.

"Quite a few of our batters are due, it's going to be tough but we'll give it a go. Confidence has been low but we've got to try and keep talking positively."

Updated: January 26, 2020 09:52 PM

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