Wed, Aug 09, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Ali leads England to Test, series victory


Moeen Ali on Monday finished a brilliant campaign with a five-wicket haul as England beat South Africa by 177 runs in the fourth Test at Old Trafford to seal a 3-1 series win.

Victory, achieved with more than a day to spare, also saw Joe Root triumphant in his first Test series as England captain.

South Africa, set a huge 380 for victory, were bowled out for 202 shortly after tea on the fourth day when Ali took two wickets in two balls to remove Morne Morkel and Duanne Olivier.

That gave the off-spinner a return of 5-69 in 19.5 overs and 25 wickets in total in a series where he also scored 252 runs.

“This series I have felt more consistent with bat and ball, especially ball. I felt good rhythm after the first game. I contributed with the bat a couple of times,” Ali told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special.

“In general, I’m very pleased,” the 30-year-old Worcestershire all-rounder added.

The result meant England had won their first home Test series against South Africa since 1998.

It was also South Africa’s second defeat in 20 away Test series, their other overseas campaign reverse in that sequence coming against India in 2015-2016.

“I’m very pleased, a fantastic effort,” an elated Root said. “We knew the target was a lot of runs and we set off brilliantly with the new ball.”

South Africa, 43-3 at lunch, saw Hashim Amla (83) and captain Faf du Plessis (61) put on 123 for the fourth wicket after James Anderson, bowling from the newly named James Anderson End on his Lancashire home ground, and Stuart Broad had made early inroads.

Ali then took three wickets for five runs in 11 balls — including the prize scalp of Amla — as the Proteas collapsed from 163-3 to 173-6.

“Broad and Anderson are relentless and our batting lineup wasn’t strong enough for them,” Du Plessis said after a match that seemed set to mark the end of Russell Domingo’s tenure as South Africa coach. “To lose Hashim and then the cluster of wickets was disappointing.”

Earlier, Ali, both the man of the match and the hosts’ man of the series, made 75 not out off just 66 balls in England’s second innings 243, having been dropped on 15.

That left South Africa facing a mammoth chase, with no side having made more to win in the fourth innings of a Test at Old Trafford than England’s 294-4 against New Zealand in 2008.

South Africa’s already difficult task was not helped when they lost both openers, leaving them at 18-2.

Dean Elgar, who made a gritty second-innings hundred in England’s 239-run victory in the third Test at The Oval — which Ali ended with a hat-trick — fell for five on Monday when caught behind off Broad.

Heino Kuhn, struggling to cement his Test place, repeatedly played and missed before, on 11, edging Anderson to Cook.

Temba Bavuma again battled hard until, from off the last ball before lunch, he was caught behind on review.

Amla completed a 100-ball fifty and then twice forced Stokes off the back foot for two stylish fours, before lofting Ali for six.

However, with South Africa 163-3, Amla missed an intended whip shot off Ali and was LBW, although England had to review umpire Kumar Dharmasena’s original not out verdict.

No replays were required when Quinton de Kock (one) edged a drive off Ali to Cook in the slips.

Later, 173-5 became 173-6 when Theunis de Bruyn fell for a duck, nicking Ali to slip fielder Stokes.

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