Jack Crawley’s unbeaten half-century propelled England to the brink of a series-win over South Africa in the third Test at the Oval on Sunday. England were 97-0 at stumps, needing just 33 runs to reach the modest target of 130 on Monday’s final day to take the three-match contest 2-1. The often struggling pair of Alex Lees (32 not out) and Crowley (57 not out) remained unbeaten till the stumps. The win would give England their sixth win in seven Tests since the new captaincy duo of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum took over earlier this season.
Even though the floodlights were on, the umpires decided that play had been called off at 6:37 pm local time (1737 GMT), yet the situation was still very dangerous.
His decision, greeted by a packed crowd by Boo, meant England were denied victory within two days as Thursday’s game was played without skipping Friday’s scheduled second day after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The ball was washed out without being thrown.
Crowley deployed his trademark cover-drive and pull to particularly good effect during his half-century of nine fours in 36 balls.
Lees and Crowley retrieved
However, left-hander Lies was dismissed off the first ball of the chase, when he saw Rabada pass only a fourth-slip opportunity to Marco Janssen, who he should have caught after two hands off the ball.
It was a rare error by Janssen, who top-scored with 118 in South Africa’s first innings, before taking a Test-best 5–35 in reply to England’s 158 before he was unceremoniously removed from the Proteas side. Second Test at Old Trafford.
Crowley was also relieved at 51 when his hard-hitting whip shot off express quick Enrique Nortje was dropped over midwicket by Ryan Rickelton.
But the real damage came on the day South Africa were bowled out for 169 in their second innings, though it was the highest score of a low-scoring game dominated by fast bowlers from both sides.
No Proteas batsman scored more than captain Dean Elgar’s 36 runs.
England captain Ben Stokes led the hosts with 3-39, while Stuart Broad scored 3-45.
Earlier, England lost their last three first innings wickets for a sum of just four runs after resuming at 154-7 on Sunday.
South Africa, who scored just one individual half-century in this series, were 30 runs 70-1 ahead at lunch.
But in the second session, the Proteas lost six wickets for 76 runs.
Elgar, a left-hander, had added just one run to his 35 at lunch when Stuart Broad bowled him lbw while bowling around the wicket.
Exceptionally, despite the match situation and his status as South Africa’s senior batsman, Elgar left almost as soon as he was selected against review.
However, replays indicated that the ball may have missed the leg stump by some distance, although by then the Elgar pavilion was back and South Africa were 83–2.
Not that Broad cared. By dismissing Elgar, he surpassed Australia great Glenn McGrath’s career of 563 Test wickets, with only longtime teammate and fellow England star James Anderson (666) taking more among the fast bowlers.
Keegan Pietersen batted well for 23 and reached fourth slip before Anderson hit a boundary.
Rickelton, for the injured Rasie van der Dussen, went lbw for eight after playing against a broad outswinger, his review proving fruitless.
Ollie Robinson, who scored a Test-best 5-49 in South Africa’s first innings, then struck twice in quick succession.
Wynn Mulder (14) played, before Khaya Zondo (16) was lbw off a ball that sharply cut back.
Stokes’ excellent inswinger bowled Jenson (four) off the last ball before tea and Anderson ended the innings when he caught and bowled Kyle Wren.
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