England down Proteas in Newlands thriller to level series

Stuart Broad (Gallo)
Stuart Broad (Gallo)

Cape Town - In the most thrilling of finishes, England beat South Africa by 189 runs in the second Test at Newlands on Tuesday.

It is a result that, on the scoreboard, does nothing to illustrate the drama of the day and the more significant statistic is that the hosts fell 50 balls short of saving the game.

The visitors took five wickets in the final session to win despite courageous efforts with the bat from Pieter Malan (84), Rassie van der Dussen (17) and Quinton de Kock (50).

The match ebbed and flowed all day, with England starting as favourites and then the Proteas looking like they had done enough to rescue the draw. In the end, it was Ben Stokes (3/35) who got the job done as he ripped through the South African lower order. 

It was a riveting day of Test cricket, with runs nowhere near the top of the list of priorities for either side.

By the end, England had five slips to the seamers and almost everyone camped around the bat for the spinners in search of the final killer blow. 

The series is now tied at 1-1 with Tests in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg to come. 

SCOREBOARD: Proteas v England - 2nd Test

Proteas batting coach Jacques Kallis had said after play on Monday that all three results were still possible and that, if they batted well enough, South Africa could still potentially chase down the 312 further runs they needed for what would have been a miraculous win. 

That quickly went out the window, though, and it was apparent from very early on that a draw would be South Africa's desired result. 

In a stunning finish to the contest that was the perfect advertisement for Test cricket staying in its current five-day format, Newlands was treated to a blockbuster finale as the South African lower order tried in vain to save the draw. 

Nightwatchman Keshav Maharaj (2 off 17) was out in just the third over of the day, trapped plumb LBW by James Anderson as England got their day off to the right start. 

That brought Faf du Plessis to the wicket at 129/3 and much was expected of the South African skipper. 

With debutant Malan rock solid from one end, Du Plessis joined him in stonewalling the English attack at the other. 

The pair spent 80 minutes together and looked largely comfortable before Du Plessis, 19 off 57 at the time, had a momentary lapse in concentration that was a defining moment in the Test match when he got down on one knee and middled a sweep off spinner Dom Bess straight to Joe Denly at square leg. 

That left England with six wickets to get as they went into lunch. At that point, they would have been backing themselves to get the job done. 

Malan, joined by Van der Dussen, continued to show intense concentration and an application that was characterised by sensible leaving and an impenetrable defence. 

When he was finally out in the 87th over to an edge off Sam Curran, Malan had faced 288 balls for his 84, scoring just three boundaries in a 369-minute stay at the crease that clearly showed his readiness for Test cricket. 

Van der Dussen, meanwhile, was another wall for the hosts in only his second Test match. Like Malan, he left well outside off-stump, weaved away from anything short and kept out the deliveries that attacked his stumps. 

The worry was that, in De Kock, the Proteas had a naturally attacking player who would not be able to rein himself in. 

There was no need for such concern, though, as De Kock went about carding the slowest Test half-century of his career, eventually dismissed for exactly 50 off 107 when he pulled part-time leg-spinner Denly to Zak Crawley at midwicket. 

De Kock, like Du Plessis, was left in disbelief but his dismissal opened the door for an English attack that was also dealing with Anderson suffering from a side strain. 

Van der Dussen was next to go, also having showed a tremendous amount of fight to stick around for 194 minutes. 

It took something out of the box to get rid of him, too, as Stuart Broad slid one down the leg side that Van der Dussen instinctively played at only to glance straight to Anderson at leg slip. 

Van der Dussen made just 17 off 140 deliveries, but his departure meant that South Africa were out of specialist batsmen and 237/7 with Vernon Philander and Dwaine Pretorius together with 21 overs to negate. 

At that stage, England were overwhelming favourites. 

Philander and England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler had an ugly clash of words, indicative of how tense things had become, but at the other end Pretorius was all at sea against Stokes. 

The South African allrounder was out for 0 caught in the slips, while Stokes had two in two when Anrich Nortje (0) also nicked off the very next ball. 

It left Philander and Kagiso Rabada with 12.2 overs to bat to secure the draw, but that was never likely. 

Philander, in his last Newlands Test, was caught at gully of Stokes for 8 as the Proteas were bowled all out for 248 and the curtain came down on a superb Test match.  

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