July 23, 2017

Root eyes more England Trent Bridge memories against South Africa

17 July 2017, 01:54 | Darnell Patrick

WATCH: Vernon Philander vs Chris Morris! South African quickies produce best dismissals of 2nd Test

Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj took three wickets each as South Africa thrashed England by 340 runs to level the four Test series 1-1

The highest successful chase in Tests remains the 418/7 West Indies made to beat Australia at Antigua in 2003. The chances of it happening on a pitch beginning to misbehave with some uneven bounce are minimal.

Turning a team's mood, mindset and match-day performances around can take months but Faf du Plessis was able to achieve that with his South African side in less than a week.

Root will have things to ponder before they head nearly certainly all square to The Oval for next week's third Test.

The numbers are not great with 10 called during this series and just three successes.

Part of the reason they failed to review Amla's nick off Stuart Broad when he was on 25 was because they'd wasted one the previous evening when Jimmy Anderson was bowling (to Kuhn). It all added to a sense of helplessness as the match drifted away.

The veteran England quick needed just 20 deliveries to collect those four wickets, finishing with 5-72 and his 22nd five-wicket haul in test cricket.

And while Root and his vice-captain largely kept the smiles on their faces - at one point jumping up and down in unison in a comedic turn each time the groundsman thumped at the footholds at the Radcliffe Road End - it was a day to test patience.

Can England summon the spirit of Mike Atherton - who memorably defied the South Africa attack to earn a draw at Johannesburg in 1995 - to win or save this one?

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Gary Ballance's struggle to rediscover his best form continued as he could only muster 27, but Root - who plundered a first-innings 190 as England won his maiden Test as captain - provided another ray of hope with his knock in Nottingham. South Africa's problems in defeat were largely of the batting (and catching) variety, however, which has led to JP Duminy being dropped for what may be the final time.

Dawson's fellow spinner Moeen Ali was ignored by Root until mid-afternoon but helped himself to 4-78 as South Africa belatedly looked to hit out after reaching tea on 236 for four.

At 275 for 6 with a lead of 405 South Africa still wanted to grind a few more runs out of England.

Anderson (2-45) was the catcher and he then encouraged the risky Quinton de Kock to edge behind. It showed the ball missing the stumps.

Opener Elgar was the first of three batsmen, along with Hashim Amla and captain Faf du Plessis, to score a half century as South Africa made their hosts pay for conceding a 130-run deficit in the first innings.

Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings had to survive 16 nervy minutes and four overs at the death with the former successfully reviewing a decision first ball after Reiffel gave him out lbw to Morne Morkel.

England players however have thrown their weight behind under-fire skipper.

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