England vs South Africa, fourth Test

Joe Root hailed the character of his England side after victory in the third Test at The Oval

Opting to bat first, hosts England at stumps on day one were 260/6 with Jonny Bairstow and Toby Roland-Jones unbeaten on 38 and zero respectively.

Dawid Malan could be excused for the loss of his wickets at The Oval where he got a pearler in the first innings and was out as England threw the bat in the second innings.

Before that, South Africa checked England's progress with two wickets in quick succession after lunch.

After passing 5000 runs by driving Morkel and then bringing up 50, there was no escape for Root when Olivier had him plum in front, but the television umpire did spare Bairstow late in the day, replays appearing to show that an edge from Maharaj did not carry to Dean Elgar. Stokes made an impressive half-century but could do nothing to keep out a ferocious yorker from Rabada.

Rabada collected 2-52 and Olivier 2-72.

One encouraging factor for South Africa has been the see-saw nature of this series, with England winning the first Test at Lord's by 211 runs, only for the Proteas to hit back with a 340-run success at Trent Bridge before another lopsided encounter at The Oval.

Part of that test this series has been facing bowlers of the calibre of accurate seamer Vernon Philander, whom the Proteas hope will be fully fit after he was laid low with a mystery stomach illness at The Oval. South Africa's pace attack was further weakened with the absence of Chris Morris, also injured.

Extraordinarily, this ideal start to Test cricket actually happened for the Middlesex seamer, and his heroics effectively put the game beyond South Africa by the end of day two.

Bairstow lit up the Manchester crowd with some brilliant strokeplay as he made South Africa pay for a missed chance which would have ended England's innings on 312, had wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock held a regulation catch when he was on 53.

Harnessing the breeze across the ground, Maharaj drifted the ball past an urgent drive for de Kock to gather a thin edge behind the stumps.

Having notched his 10th successive Test half-century and appearing ready to accelerate, Root then undid his good work by getting trapped lbw by Duanne Olivier (2-72) for 52.

On the face of it 260-6 at the close on a hard day for batting was not a disaster for Root's men as they looked to seal a 3-1 series win with victory for all the margin call went South Africa's way.

For Root, his 5000 test runs have come at a fabulous rate: 57 tests and 105 innings, putting him among some outstanding names.

De Kock had his third catch of the day just three overs later as Westley edged the ball from the bowling of Rabada for 29 off 88 balls.

He scored all but four of the runs added with Anderson, and did so at better than a run a ball, as South Africa lost their heads in the field.

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