Day three resumed with England on 238-5 with Joe Root and Johnny Bairstow at the crease. England haven’t had good morning sessions in the first two days of this test match and that wasn’t about to change. Still trailing South Africa by 75 runs, England had work to do. Rabada continued with the same tenacity and rhythm as he did yesterday morning as he forced Root into an inside edge for Vilas to catch relatively comfortably. Root only managing to add four more to his overnight score. Moeen Ali hasn’t really set any arena alight in South Africa so far in this tour and a loose drive off the bowling of Morris meant he was caught by Vilas and returning to the pavilion with 19 runs to his name. England crept closer to the South African total with 279-7. Bairstow battled away on what appeared to be a pitch that was becoming more and more difficult to bat on as the test match progresses. Broad tried to support him but Rabada set him up beautifully with a couple of short balls and then pulled the perfect yorker out of his pocket to remove Broad for 12. Finn was powerless to stop a Morkel delivery brushing his glove through to Vilas as England reached 311-9 and still two runs behind the South African total. It wasn’t Morkel who finished England off though as South Africa’s main man with the ball Rabada brought a very gritty and determined Bairstow (45) innings to an end. Bairstow tried to clear the boundary but only succeeded in launching the ball high into the air to be caught by van Zyl. England finished their first innings on 323 with a lead of just 10 runs. It was definitely South Africa’s morning as Rabada sees his name go up on the honours board as the young man bowled magnificently to take 5-75.
Elgar and van Zyl had to negotiate a tricky period prior to the lunch break but both remained at the crease with South Africa 16-0 at the interval. With a deteriorating pitch and dark clouds overhead South Africa had the daunting task of batting enough time, with enough runs in order to try and level the series. Daunting because this is one of the weakest South African batting line-ups bereft of any real confidence on a pitch that is very lively. Their lack of confidence showed from the outset. Elgar went early for 15 off the bowling of Broad. It was a delivery that just continued to rise but Elgar had no right to even play at it because it was never getting near his stumps. That was Broad’s 325th test wicket putting him joint third in England’s all time wicket taking list alongside Bob Willis. Broad is a mercurial character. A stomach bug has meant that he has grossly underperformed for much of the test, so what happened was remarkable. South Africa soon lost their second wicket as van Zyl edged Broad to Stokes at gully and Anderson dropping van Zyl on nine was quickly forgotten. In came the South African captain AB de Villiers with his team struggling on 28-2 but we weren’t to see a counter attacking batting display we are so used to seeing. A beautiful delivery with pace, bounce and seam movement caught de Villiers’ inside edge and nestled safely into Bairstow’s gloves. Broad now had three wickets and all of them top order batsmen but with Hashim Amla still at the crease his work wasn’t finished just yet. England’s tails were up and Broad smelt blood. By the end of the 16th over Amla had been superbly caught by Taylor at short leg for five and Broad had taken four wickets for just the loss of one run in the space of 23 balls. Purple patch Broad was back! Bavuma added another duck to the South African innings as he fell to the Broad sword as he completed his five fer and reduced South Africa to 35-5.
It was now up to du Plessis and Vilas to rescue South Africa from a rather perilous position. Two balls into Finn’s spell saw James Taylor take a catch to surpass all previous catches. Vilas fended Finn off to the leg side but Taylor was alive and alert on his toes, dove to his right and caught the ball one handed. A magnificent piece of fielding from the short man at short leg. Up until this point Ben Stokes hadn’t had an opportunity to influence the game with the ball and you could tell he wasn’t happy about it. England’s game changer with the bat steamed in towards Morris and made the ball talk. It looped, dipped and swung in as Morris missed it completely and saw his stumps dismantled. South Africa now 46-7 and in massive trouble. Stokes then removes Rabada after probing away outside off-stump with swinging delivery after swinging delivery. Eventually Rabada departed for 16 after edging Stokes straight to Bairstow. Mini revival over. Viljoen and du Plessis scratched around and survived until the tea interval with South Africa 71-8 and leading England by 61 runs.
After tea Jimmy Anderson finally got in on the act by trapping Viljoen LBW as the South African innings with fittingly brought to an end with Broad removing du Plessis who got an inside edge onto his pad and looped the ball up into the air. Broad gladly took the catch as South Africa’s sorry innings came to an end 83 all out as he finished with figures of 6-17. England would have a total of 74 to win. Alastair Cook and Alex Hales opened the batting for England with only Cook looking assured and confident at the crease. Hales departed for 18 off the bowling of Elgar by trying to sweep the ball but missing completely and getting trapped LBW. Nick Compton came in at three and decided he didn’t want to hang around as he tried to hit Elgar over the top but didn’t get enough on it. It took a fantastic catch from Morkel to dismiss Compton though. Captain Cook edged Morris through to Vilas on 43 as England started to make their run chase look more difficult than it actually was. However, a superb seven wicket win was confirmed as Joe Root smashed the ball for four to finish on 7* and finish the game off.
Day two may have been the day of the Root but day three was the day that South Africa were cut to pieces by the Broad sword.