|Second Investec Test, Trent Bridge, day three|
|South Africa 335 & 343-9 dec: Amla 87, Elgar 80, Moeen 4-78|
|England 205 & 1-0|
|England need 474 to win|
South Africa mercilessly sucked the life out of England on the third day of the second Test at Trent Bridge.
Hashim Amla, Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis all passed 50 as the tourists eventually declared on 343-9 in their second innings.
Set 474 to win, England were given four overs to survive at the end of the day.
Alastair Cook was given out lbw first ball, but successfully overturned the decision on review to see the home side close on 1-0.
England’s bowling was largely respectable, with Moeen Ali taking 4-78 and Ben Stokes 2-34.
Their day might have been better had a caught-behind appeal against Amla been reviewed when he was on 25, while Elgar was dropped by a flying James Anderson on 55.
Ultimately, Joe Root’s side paid the price for being bowled out for 205 in their first innings, and the four-match series is likely to be levelled at 1-1.
|Highest fourth innings totals to win a Test|
|Total||Winner v opponent||Year||Venue|
|418-7||West Indies v Australia||2003||Antigua|
|414-4||South Africa v Australia||2008||Perth|
|406-4||India v West Indies||1976||Trinidad|
|404-3||England v Australia||1948||Leeds|
|387-4||India v England||2008||Chennai|
England stare down the barrel
Following the high of a 211-run victory at Lord’s a week ago, this was a chastening day for England, who have to pull off a Test record run chase if they are to secure an unlikely victory.
The surface offered less assistance to the pace bowlers than the first two days, but the home side would not have been pleased to see examples of the ball keeping low late on.
Tactics were occasionally imaginative – the off side packed or leg-side catchers employed for the short ball – and the bowling wholehearted, even if paceman Mark Wood again looked innocuous in 18 wicketless overs.
But most of England’s efforts were repelled by a South Africa side who demonstrated all the patience, discipline and application that eluded the hosts on day two.
Amla leads Proteas’ plod
It was Amla (87) who epitomised South Africa’s relentless accumulation, only bursting to life at the sight of Liam Dawson, hitting the left-arm spinner down the ground.
Still, it was Dawson who removed Amla, correctly reviewing a rejected lbw appeal after the right-hander advanced down the pitch.
Elgar (80) earlier shared a stand of 135 with Amla, but the left-hander showed no great fluency before he was bounced out by Stokes.
England chipped away, but the compact Du Plessis (63) was another to show restraint until he was trapped by a Stokes delivery that scuttled through.
Off-spinner Moeen benefited as the visitors accelerated towards a declaration, claiming his fourth wicket by holding a return catch from Vernon Philander (42), who had just hoisted two massive leg-side sixes from successive balls.
More review problems for England
Root, in his second Test as captain, has experienced problems with the Decision Review System, seeing two referrals wasted on the first day after pressure from bowlers Stokes and Stuart Broad.
That was probably the explanation for his reluctance to use a review after Broad’s muted appeal for an Amla edge behind was rejected. Subsequent replays showed the faintest nick.
In Broad’s following over, Anderson, at gully, leapt high and thrust out his left hand, but failed to cling on to the chance offered by Elgar.
Later, Cook was correct to challenge when given out leg before to Morne Morkel, with the ball-tracker suggesting it was going over the top of the stumps,
Still, he and opening partner Keaton Jennings each had a further appeal to survive in a testing period before the close.
‘We have two days to knock them off’ – what they said
England bowling coach Ottis Gibson: “It is a great game to win from here. You have to give a lot of credit to South Africa. There was a lot of character shown not just by our bowling unit but the fielders.
“The captain said he wanted people to step up and Anderson came in and led really well this morning. Wood has not got any wickets but bowled really well in patches coming off the back of a long lay-off and Stokes was fantastic today.
“It has been a very tough couple of days but we have two days to make 474.”
Ex-England batsman Ed Smith: “The groundsman here at Trent Bridge reckons the pitch will get flatter the more the sun comes out. Let’s hope for England’s sake he is correct.
“There were some ominous signs late on with Vernon Philander swinging the ball round but England battled through a horrible period without loss.”
Former England spinner Graeme Swann: “England should be thinking they can chase this. Joe Root is a positive lad and will think it’s chaseable. I played in a game where India chased 380-4 against us in Chennai.
“Joe has very little captaincy experience but in a game where he led Yorkshire, Middlesex knocked off 480. I think Hampshire did something similar to him too. He’ll be thinking if they can do it to my team, I’ll do it to somebody else’s.”