Moeen's hat-trick rounds off victory despite Elgar's resistance

Hendo

Final report: (Third Test day 5)

England 353 & 313-8 dec bt South Africa 175 & 252 by 239 runs

Moeen Ali finished off the historic 100th Test match at the Oval in appropriately memorable style with a hat-trick – the first in a Test match at the famous ground – to give England an emphatic victory and put them 2-1 ahead in the series with one to play.

Ali finally ended the resistance of the admirable Dean Elgar, who almost single-handedly defied the home side, when he was induced to drive at one that turned from the footholes, and gave a simple catch to Ben Stokes at slip.

Kagiso Rabada, another left-hander, went exactly the same way next ball before Ali floated one into Morne Morkel's front pad and got the decision on review.

England's players were staring at the big screen en masse when Kumar Dharmasena, the third umpire, delivered his ruling and that was the signal for them to erupt in a frenzy of self-congratulation.

Ali, having taken the wicket of Chris Morris the ball before lunch – this time Stokes had more work to do to take the catch diving to his left – finished with figures of four for 45 and boosted his total of wickets in the series to 18 at a remarkable average of 14.

Only Elgar stood firm, defying an early burst from Stokes as England, needing six wickets to win at the start of play, struggled to make the breakthrough.

Elgar, who moved impressively to an eighth Test century – and a second against England – took every opportunity to score even when Stokes, in an aggressive opening salvo, was peppering him with short balls and some serious invective.

The better balls he found a way to defend, sometimes even when they were rising to hit bat handle or splice; the poorer ones he dispatched emphatically to the leg-side boundary with insolent pulls.

Despite losing Bavuma, with whom he shared a fifth-wicket stand of 108, and Philander when on the brink of his hundred, he remained focused, finally stepping down the wicket to loft Ali over mid-off to reach three figures.

He went on beyond the lunch interval and when Ali finally removed him – something of a surprise as he had shown good judgment outside off stump to all the bowlers – he had hit 136 from 228 balls with 20 fours

That he had also taken a couple of nasty raps on the hand made his effort even more distinguished.

Roland-Jones' Midas touch showed no sign of abandoning him as he struck with successive balls in his second over of the day, trapping both Bavuma and Vernon Philander, leg-before, the latter showing the same suicidal eagerness of his captain to pad up to a swinging delivery.

It had been a stunning debut from the Middlesex seamer, who had taken eight wickets in the Test, twice dismissiing Hashim Amla, South Africa's finest batsman.

In most instances that would have been enough to earn him the man-of-the-match award but on this occasion he was just outdone by the all-round excellence – and maturity – of Ben Stokes. A century-maker in the first innings when conditions were at their most difficult, he added a rapid 31 in the second when England needed quick runs and picked up three wickets and four catches to boot.

While Roland-Jones took the headlines on debut, Tom Westley also showed promise, batting with great composure and positivity, particularly on the third afternoon before the rain came.

If he has an issue with the bat turning in his right hand too often when he drives, it was at least satisfying to see him working on the problem with batting coach Mark Ramprakash in the nets. His first half-century at this level was really an innnings of two distinct parts, and if his timing when he resumed on Sunday was lacking, he still showed good judgment about balls to leave outside the off stump.

Things didn't work out quite as well for Dawid Malan, England's third debutant, who managed only 11 runs in the match but in mitigation he did receive two top-class deliveries from Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris and will get another chance or two.

If these are men starting out on their Test careers, mention should be made of their most experienced campaigner. Alastair Cook's first innings of 88 was crucial to this victory. It was typical Cook, who seems to prosper most when the conditions are at their worst. He had to defy the best of Vernon Philander and particularly Morkel, who produced two fine deliveries to dismiss him in each innings.

South Africa lost the game on the second afternoon, when Roland-Jones surprised and delighted England supporters with his extraordinary first spell in Test cricket. What should give them consolation as they head to Manchester for the final Test on Friday is that this match was not one in which they threw wickets away as England did at Trent Bridge. Notwithstanding the double misjudgment of captain Faf du Plessis in shouldering arms to balls from Anderson and Stokes, most of their batsmen were got out by usually good, and often excellent, deliveries.

That was generally true of England, too, as we were treated to a pitch and overhead conditions – certainly on the first three days – that always made the battle between bat and ball interesting.

It made for a compelling Test and if Morkel, Rabada and Philander bowl as well at Old Trafford as they did here – and if there proves to be a bit of spin for slow left-armer Keshav Maharaj who has almost passed under the radar in being South Africa's leading wicket-taker in this series, and should England's inconsistency re-emerge, they are certainly in with a good chance of squaring the series.

Lunchtime report (third Test, Day 5)

England 353 & 313-8 dec South Africa 175 & 205-7 (Elgar 113*)

Toby Roland-Jones's Midas touch showed no sign of losing its lustre, the Middlesex seamer striking with successive balls as England found themselves in need of inspriation on the final morning at the Oval.

The debuatant struck in his second over of the day after Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad had bowled for 40 minutes without success. First he removed the steadfast Temba Bavuma, leg-before on review after the ball was shown to hit pad before bat, and Vernon Philander, trapped in front, like his captain failing to offer a stroke.

That put him on a hat-trick, and next ball he induced a nervous edge from Chris Morris that just fell short of Stokes at fourth slip.

Only Dean Elgar stood firm, defying an early burst from Stokes as England, needing six wickets to take a 2-1 lead in the series, struggled to make the breakthrough.

Elgar, who moved impressively to an eighth Test century – and a second against England – took every opportunity to score even when Stokes, in an aggressive opening salvo, was peppering him with short balls and some serious invective.

The better balls he found a way to defend, sometimes even when they were rising to hit bat handle or splice; the poorer ones he dispatched emphatically to the leg-side boundary with insolent pulls.

He continued, seemingly unperturbed, as he lost Bavuma and Philander when on the brink of his hundred, finally stepping down the wicket to loft Moeen Ali over mid-off to reach three figures. It was the seventeenth four of an admirable innings that had occupied 149 balls. That he had also taken a couple of nasty raps on the hand made his effort even more distinguished.

He had shared in a stand of 108 with Bavuma, who had looked relatively untroubled this morning until he failed to get far enough forward to Roland-Jones' good-length delivery.

Jimmy Anderson did not get his first bowl until 40 minutes before lunch, suggesting that Joe Root, the captain, is quickly learning to make the difficult decisions but it was Moeen Ali who took the next wicket, finding Chris Morri's outside edge and Stokes diving to his left to take a fine catch at slip.

Morris had driven Broad nicely a couple of times on his way to a composed 24 adding 45 with Elgar, who went unbeaten to lunch on 113.