England-South Africa test goes to final-session showdown
CAPE TOWN: England broke opener Pieter Malan's resistance but not South Africa's as the second test went to a final-session showdown in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Seeking eight wickets on the last day to level the series, England had managed just three in the first two sessions at Newlands.
Opener Malan's dismissal for 84 after lunch was the last and most important so far but South Africa was still stubbornly holding on at tea on 225-5. Malan's was England's only breakthrough after lunch.
South Africa needs 438 to win but that's irrelevant now. More relevantly, the Proteas need to survive 31 overs in the last act of the test to draw and stay 1-0 ahead in the four-match series. England needs five wickets to win and make it 1-1 with tests to come in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.
Sam Curran dismissed debutant Malan — caught by Ben Stokes in the slips — to lift England shortly after lunch.
But Rassie van der Dussen and Quinton de Kock put on 54 for the sixth wicket in another stubborn stand to take the Proteas to tea.
Dean Elgar (34) and Malan put on 71 for the first wicket, and Malan and Zubayr Hamza (18) put on 52 for the second late on the fourth day.
England broke those partnerships on Monday, and removed South Africa captain Faf du Plessis for 19 in the morning of the final day. South Africa kept fighting. Van der Dussen and de Kock faced 169 balls in their stand. Van der Dussen was 17 not out off 105 balls and faced 31 balls for one run at the start of his grinding innings. De Kock was 38 off 91.
South Africa's fight was admirable but also significantly helped by a pitch that had gone flat for the bowlers.
Spinner Dom Bess provided England's first big breakthrough of the day when du Plessis hit a sweep straight to Joe Denly at square leg about 30 minutes before lunch. The loss of concentration by du Plessis left South Africa 170-4 at the break and facing a big task to save the test.
Malan followed after lunch to a ball from Curran that cramped him for room. Stokes took his sixth catch of the test at second slip and pumped his fist in the air and then down toward the ground to signify the importance of the moment.
But England's bowlers ran into another frustrating partnership between van der Dussen and de Kock.
Fast bowler James Anderson got rid of Hamza at the end of the fourth day and nightwatchman Keshav Maharaj lbw for 2 fairly early on the fifth day. Anderson had 2-23 in the innings and seven wickets in the match.
South Africa won the first test by 107 runs but England took complete control of the second on day four when allrounder Stokes hit a whirlwind 72 off 47 balls and opener Dom Sibley made 133 not out to set South Africa the mammoth target.