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England close in on victory

07 August 2017

Ben Stokes has demonstrated a couple of times this summer that he can bat against type in the team cause and he was at it again, escaping on five when no one even appealed after he edged one behind off Morkel, but digging in nonetheless in a hard-working fifth-wicket stand of 57 with Root.

Moeen - he was dropped, too, by the butter-fingered Dean Elgar at slip off Maharaj on 15 - chose to attack as England built their substantial lead.

The second of those, a straight drive that saw Ali complete a 49-ball fifty - was "caught" on the England dressing-room balcony by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow to the delight of the crowd. I'd like to win the Ashes again.

South Africa-born Jennings came into this innings under huge pressure for his place after averaging a mere 16.40 in Test cricket since a hundred on debut against India at Mumbai in December.

But Ali then took three wickets for five runs in 11 balls - including the prize scalp of Amla - as South Africa collapsed from 163/3 to 173/6.

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Although the comfort of their first-innings lead meant there would have been few nerves in the England dressing room, the hosts were struggling at 134-6 when Moeen walked to the crease.

For now though, they must take the final two England wickets.

In its first series under Root, England was ultimately convincing in three of the four tests, with its only wobble coming in a heavy defeat in the second match at Trent Bridge.

His 17 wickets in the series hardly do his work justice, and he set the tone for South Africa's initially excellent Sunday by removing both Alastair Cook and Westley in the morning session as he charged in to deliver pace and precision in equal measure.

Kagiso Rabada was the pick of the South Africa bowlers with figures of 4/91.

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Dawid Malan was also dropped - a tough chance to Temba Bavuma as he ran back from point - but soon prodded the ball via bat and pad into short leg's hands off spinner Keshav Maharaj.

Olivier, who took an impressive 3-38, insisted South Africa could yet achieve a remarkable win.

"I hope so but I'm not getting too excited about it", said Moeen. "They were relentless and as a batting unit we felt we could never really get on top of them".

"It is going to be hard but it should be - it's Test cricket".

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England close in on victory