Ruthless England close on victory in third test

PORT ELIZABETH: England were seven wickets away from winning the third test on Sunday after reducing South Africa to 44 for three in their follow-on on the fourth day, still trailing by 246 runs.

Rain delayed England’s bid for a 2-1 series lead but they managed four wickets, for the loss of a single run, to dismiss the home team for 209 and, when the skies cleared, took three more as South Africa faltered again.

Pieter Malan (12) was trapped lbw by England captain Joe Root with the last ball before tea, leaving Rassie van der Dussen to join captain Faf du Plessis (12 not out) for the evening session.

The hosts need to bat for another five sessions to force an unlikely draw at St George's Park and go to the last test in Johannesburg with a chance to win the series.

Seamer Stuart Broad ripped through South Africa’s tail in the opening 27 minutes of the morning to allow England to enforce the follow-on and Mark Wood grabbed the first two wickets in the second innings.

The beleaguered home team resumed overnight on 208 for six, with Vernon Philander (27) and Quinton de Kock (63) having put on 54 for the seventh wicket but facing a new ball that had been taken by England late on the third evening.

It took Broad (3-30) only six balls to make the breakthrough, finding seam movement to clean bowl Philander.

De Kock followed five balls later as seamer Sam Curran hit the top of middle stump.

That realistically ended South Africa’s hopes of avoiding the follow-on. Keshav Maharaj (0) chopped a Broad delivery onto his stumps and Kagiso Rabada (1) chipped Broad to Wood at mid-off.

South Africa were 15-0 when rain brought a three-hour halt to proceedings, but when they resumed England picked up where they left off as Wood bowled Dean Elgar for 15 and snagged Zubayr Hamza, strangled down the leg side for two.

South Africa won the first test in Pretoria by 107 runs before the tourists hit back with a 189-run success in Cape Town.

The final test of the four-match series starts at The Wanderers on Friday.