Ali attacks to give England 360-run lead over South Africa
Aug. 06, 2017
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — More lower-order resistance put England on course for a series-clinching victory in the fourth and final test against South Africa on Sunday as Moeen Ali's quick-fire 67 gave the home team a 360-run lead.
There's likely more to come from Ali, too, as he ended unbeaten and took England to stumps on Day 3 on 224-8, a slightly wobbly second innings but enough to open a convincing lead with two days to play.
Like Jonny Bairstow's 99 in the first innings, Ali's brisk half-century ensured England didn't succumb when under pressure, this time at 153-7.
Ali, coming in at No. 8, counterattacked convincingly, hitting eight fours and three sixes in his 67 from just 59 balls. His 50 arrived off 49 balls and after England had been struggling and had gone 29 deliveries at one point without scoring.
Ali controlled a 58-run stand with Toby Roland-Jones, scoring 45 of those 58 runs from just 40 balls.
Rain brought an early stumps at Old Trafford, and Ali and Stuart Broad will return on Day 4 with a 400-run lead in sight. As it stands, England is still favorite to seal a 3-1 series victory to start the tenure of new captain Joe Root.
The current lead of 360 is more than any team has successfully chased in the fourth innings at Old Trafford.
Victory would bring England a second straight series win over South Africa after winning in South Africa 18 months ago, but its first at home over the Proteas since the Michael Atherton vs. Allan Donald series of 1998.
On Sunday, Root once again propped up England's top order with his 49, but he played on to Olivier on the brink of a half-century and was fifth man out following failures by opener Keaton Jennings and new men Tom Westley and Dawid Malan.
Bairstow and Ben Stokes also failed this time, but at crucial points in this series the late-order trio of Bairstow, Stokes and now Ali has come to England's rescue to stave off South Africa.
England's advantage in the final test was built on its 136-run first-innings advantage. England made 362 and bowled South Africa out for 226, wrapping up the South African first innings early on Day 3. James Anderson took 4-38 at his home ground and Broad 3-46.
Ali's cameo at the end of the day made sure the Proteas face an uphill task to save the series, with England's struggles on Sunday pointing to a tough time for South Africa's batsmen when they try to chase victory. South Africa must win the test to draw the series.