Zak Crawley’s dynamic unbeaten fifty brought England to the brink of beating South Africa in the third Test at the Oval on Sunday. England were 97-0 at stumps and needed just 33 more runs to reach a modest goal of 130 on Monday’s final day to win the three-game match 2-1. Often wrestling duo Alex Lees (32 out) and Crawley (57 out) were both undefeated at punches. Victory would give England a sixth win in seven Tests since their new leadership duo of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum took charge at the start of this season.
Although the floodlights were on, the umpires decided conditions were still too dangerous when play was interrupted at 6:37 PM local time (1737 GMT).
Their decision, which was greeted with booing from a packed crowd, meant England were denied a win within two days of Thursday’s game being washed out without throwing a ball before Friday’s scheduled second day of match was canceled following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Crawley used both his signature cover drive and pull to great effect during a 36-ball fifty with nine fours.
Read and Crawley granted a reprieve
Left-handed Lees, however, was dropped on the first ball of the chase when he pulled Rabada forward, only for Marco Jansen to score a fourth slip chance that he should have kept after getting two hands at the ball.
It was a rare mistake by Jansen, who had topped the score with 30 in South Africa’s meager first innings 118 at the Oval before taking a test-best 5-35 in England’s answer of 158 after falling unhappily from the Proteas side who lost the second test at Old Trafford.
Crawley also got a reprieve, at 51, when his hard-hit whip struck off speedy Anrich Nortje who was dropped by Ryan Rickelton at midwicket.
But the real damage had been done earlier in the day when South Africa were ejected for 169 in their second innings, although this was the highest total of a low-scoring game dominated by fast bowlers on both sides.
No Proteas batsman earned more than captain Dean Elgar’s 36.
England skipper Ben Stokes led the hosts’ attack 3-39, while Stuart Broad took 3-45.
Previously, England lost their last three wickets in the first inning before adding just four runs after Sunday’s resume at 154-7.
South Africa, who managed only one individual fifty in this series, were 70-1 at lunch, 30 runs ahead.
But in the second session, the Proteas lost six wickets for 76 runs.
Left-handed Elgar had only added one run to his lunch score of 35 when Stuart Broad, bowling from around the wicket, had him lbw.
Elgar almost ran off as soon as he was handed out, having, extraordinary, despite the match situation and his status as South Africa’s senior batsman, opted against a review.
Replays, however, indicated that the ball would have missed the leg stump by a distance, although Elgar was back in the pavilion by then and South Africa was 83-2.
Broad didn’t care. By sacking Elgar, he surpassed the career of Glenn McGrath, Australia’s great Glenn McGrath, of 563 Test wickets, with only long-standing teammate and fellow England star James Anderson (666) who has won more under tempo- bowlers.
Keegan Petersen hit well for his 23 before being beaten by an Anderson delivery that pushed him to the fourth slip.
Rickelton, taking the place of injured Rassie van der Dussen, was lbw for eight after playing over a wide outswinger, and his review proved fruitless.
Ollie Robinson, who took a Test-best 5-49 in South Africa’s first innings, then struck twice in quick succession.
Wiaan Mulder (14) played on before the also calm Khaya Zondo (16) was lbw for a ball that cut back sharply.
Stokes’ excellent inswinger then threw in Jansen (four) with what became the last ball before tea and Anderson ended the innings when he caught and threw Kyle Verreynne.
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