Eng­land in com­mand

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Manch­ester, UK - Moeen Ali's dash­ing fifty all but put the fourth Test be­yond South Africa's reach as Eng­land moved to­wards a series win at Old Traf­ford on Sun­day.

When rain ended the third's play early, Eng­land was 224 for eight in its sec­ond in­nings - a lead of 360 runs - with Moeen un­beaten on 67.

South Africa al­ready needed to set a new ground record if it was to end the four-match series all square at 2-2 as no side has made more in the fourth in­nings of a Test at Old Traf­ford to win than Eng­land's 294 for four against New Zealand in 2008.

Moeen made South Africa pay for Dean El­gar drop­ping him on 15 when a low slip chance off left-arm spin­ner Ke­shav Ma­haraj did not stick.

He may come in at No 8 for Eng­land but off-spin­ner Moeen - who ear­lier in this match took 20 wick­ets in a Test series for the first time in his ca­reer - made his name with Worces­ter­shire as a top-or­der bats­man.

The left-handed Moeen was es­pe­cially se­vere on Ma­haraj, hit­ting him for three re­sound­ing sixes.

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.

Eng­land is bid­ding for a first home Test series win over South Africa since 1998, with Joe Root seek­ing a vic­tory in his first Test series as Eng­land cap­tain.

South Africa re­sumed on 220 for nine and was soon all out for 226 when Stu­art Broad dis­missed last man Duanne Olivier to give the hosts a healthy first-in­nings lead of 136.

South Africa fast bowler Morne Morkel then re­moved both Alas­tair Cook (10) and Tom West­ley (nine) with the aid of gully catches.

At lunch, Eng­land was 53 for two, with Keaton Jen­nings - dropped in the slips on nought - 17 not out.

But South Africa-born Jen­nings was un­able to cash in on his re­prieve.

The Durham left-han­der had added just one to his in­ter­val score when, he edged a cut off Kag­iso Rabada to Hashim Amla.

Dawid Malan, who was also look­ing for a big score, ex­ited soon for six but Root (49) and Ben Stokes (23), shared a stand first slip of 57 to re­build the in­nings.

They both fell to pace­man Olivier, only play­ing this match af­ter back in­juries ruled out both Ver­non Philander and Chris Mor­ris.

Olivier, who also dis­missed Jonny Bairstow, ended the day with fine fig­ures of three for 38 but that was scant con­so­la­tion to his side.

(AFP)

Eng­land's Moeen Ali plays a shot on the third day against South Africa

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