England all-rounder Moeen Ali has urged his side’s bowling unit to go on the offensive in a bid to wrestle initiative away from buoyant South Africa after a sobering third day of the final Test in Centurion yesterday.
Paceman Kagiso Rabada demolished England’s batting order to claim 7-112 and help South Africa rout the tourists for 342 before the Proteas reached 42-1 at the close, a lead of 175.
Despite facing a hefty deficit, Moeen has not given up hope of England navigating the Test series unbeaten, and has backed their bowling unit to ignite a stunning fightback.
“We are still going to be positive and try to get something out of the game,” said Moeen. “We’re a side that have got bowlers who can win us a game, as we saw last week at The Wanderers.
“Hopefully we can do that again. We have to attack them when they come into bat and try to bowl them out as quickly as we can.
“We’ve got two of the best bowlers I’ve ever played with. We saw at The Wanderers what Broady [Stuart Broad, 6-17] can do and we obviously know what Jimmy [Anderson] can do.”
It was Anderson who snared the wicket of opener Dean Elgar in the third over of South Africa’s second innings before Alex Hales dropped former South Africa skipper Hashim Amla at third slip while on nought.
But the day belonged to 20-year-old Rabada in only his sixth Test match, producing career-best figures and a maiden five-wicket haul. It was also the first time a South Africa bowler had taken seven wickets in an innings against England since 1957.
Resuming on 138-2, skipper Alastair Cook and his deputy Joe Root advanced England’s score to 177 before the captain’s departure to seamer Morne Morkel triggered South Africa’s onslaught.
Root, like Cook, was out for 76, while the wickets of James Taylor for 14 and Bairstow for nought – all to right-arm quick Rabada – meant England had lost four batsmen for just 73 runs.
Moeen provided England with temporary salvation, while fellow all-rounder Ben Stokes made 33, as the 28-year-old struck 61 – his highest score in 15 innings – and shared a 43-run partnership with Chris Woakes, who amassed 26.
The Worcestershire man also eked out a further 47 runs with Stuart Broad and tail-ender Anderson before falling to Morkel to signal the end of England’s innings. Nottinghamshire’s Broad had earlier become Rabada’s seventh and final victim.