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Cricket | South Africa

Moeen Ali © Gallo Images

Magical Ali seals series for England

South Africa slumped to heavy 177-run defeat on day four of the fourth and final test against England at Old Trafford in Manchester on Monday.

Full Scorecard: England v South Africa
Interactive coverage Day 4

The result afforded England a convincing three-one series triumph - their first over the Proteas, at home, in almost two decades.

"I'm elated with this series win. The way we played of late, we've looked pretty dangerous - and having a couple of key allrounders in the side has been vital. I'm a proud captain here - and am very lucky to have had everyone contribute to this victory. We fought hard - and we will enjoy the celebrations that are to come," enthused England captain Joe Root.

Faced with a staunch 380-run target, the visitors crumbled to an entirely insufficient 202 all out. Half-centurions Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis attempted, valiantly, to force the fixture into a fifth day, but a severe lack of support curtailed their collective ambition.

The second session provided the tourists with some hope, as Amla and Du Plessis' combatant century stand defied the English. A change of ends for spinner Moeen Ali, though, sparked a collapse - three wickets ensued across just 10 runs.

Opener Heino Kuhn's inadequacies were familiar, while the left-handed Dean Elgar suffered a rare failure. The talented Temba Bavuma's promotion above Du Plessis and wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock was questionable - and the inexperienced Theunis de Bruyn, again, was out of his depth.


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A batting order minus the solid services of allrounders Vernon Philander and Chris Morris, sidelined by injury, had very little to offer. Tail-enders Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel and Duanne Olivier denied the inevitable, briefly, as the eventuality soon arrived.

Ali, of course, proved the pick of the English bowlers. The left-armer's telling match haul, complemented by a string of others, consolidated his status as the series' leading wicket-taker. He secured the Man-of-the-Match award - and the England Player of the Series accolade.


"This was a fantastic series. Amla and du Plessis played really well, but we knew one wicket would change things, crucially. The pitch was great to bowl on, particularly if you put good revolutions on the ball. I enjoy taking momentum into my bowling, after doing a job with the bat. I really enjoyed the consistency of my performances this series," said Ali.

South Africa will rue a woeful inability to convert a slew of starts into innings of substance across the four-match affair. They only managed one century - and 13 half-tons. Wicket-wise, well not one five-for arrived - and England orchestrated four.

They'll also lament the absence of du Plessis in the first test, due to paternity leave, and fast bowler Kagiso Rabada's inability to play in the second amid a suspension. Philander and Morris, then, missed the fourth. Several dropped catches, meanwhile, remained fresh in the mind of the Proteas skipper.

"Consistently, England were the better the team. Our entire trip in England, for three months, was not good enough. The Champions Trophy was disappointing - and so was this test series. The England bowlers were great - and relentless. We were not at our best in the field either, having dropped a couple of important catches. England always had one guy who would come in and blow the game away from us," concluded du Plessis.

The second-placed Proteas are now just one position superior to the third-placed English, who have leapfrogged Australia, in the International Cricket Council's test team rankings.

England and South Africa have now met in the longest form of the international game on 149 occasions, with the former victorious on 61 occasions and the latter 33.

South Africa's next assignment is September and October's two tests, three ODIs and one-off T20I against Bangladesh. England, meanwhile, will hosts the West Indies for three tests, five ODIs and one T20I.

Report Day 1
Report Day 2
Report Day 3

ENGLAND: AN Cook, KK Jennings, T Westley, JE Root (capt), DJ Malan, BA Stokes, JM Bairstow (wk), MM Ali, TS Roland-Jones, SCJ Broad, JM Anderson

SOUTH AFRICA: D Elgar, HG Kuhn, HM Amla, Q de Kock (wk), F du Plessis (capt), T Bavuma, TB de Bruyn, KA Maharaj, K Rabada, M Morkel, D Olivier


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