End of game report: England 362 & 243 bt South Africa 226 & 202 by 177 runs
It is getting to be a habit. Moeen Ali wrapped up the third Test match with a hat-trick – the first in 100 Tests at the Oval – and ended South Africa's resistance at Old Trafford with wickets in successive balls.
It gave him figures of five for 69, no more than he deserved as he bowled the decisive spell shortly before tea to match his exploits with the bat on the third evening, and a total of 25 wickets in the series – by far the best haul on either side.
Add in 252 runs at an average of 36 with two fifties – including his effort at better than a run a ball in the second innings here – and the arguments for man of the series did not need to be lengthy. The figures made the 30-year-old all-rounder, also named man of the match, the first player to take 25 wickets and score more than 250 runs in a four-match series.
Ali had not taken a wicket before he finally separated Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis after the pair had threatened to ensure England went wicketless between lunch and tea. The experienced pair had added 123 for the fourth wicket when he trapped Amla leg-before in the half hour added to the session because of rain before lunch.
Then he nipped out Quinton de Kock, the left-hander, and Theunis de Bruyn in the space of three balls to leave South Africa on 173 for six and unlikely to survive the day.
De Kock skewed a drive to gully while De Bruyn played inside one that didn't turn and edged to slip. Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes respectively took good, sharp, low catches.
Du Plessis, who had just reached a 15th Test fifty, watched the collapse in disbelief from the opposite end and, perhaps deflated, lasted into only the third over after the tea interval when he aimed a wild drive at Anderson and was caught behind.
At that point, Anderson had two for 15 from 13 overs and the dream of finishing with a five-wicket haul for the first time in what is likely to be his final Test appearance on his home ground was in range.He picked up Kagiso Rabada driving to short extra, where Tom Westley took a fine catch above his head, to bring that even closer to reality,but Moeen intervened to steal his thunder.
Keshav Maharaj was batting positively but Morne Morkel was not so lucky as he tried to clear mid-off, only to be caught by a jubilant Joe Root., Duanne Olivier went the following ball, giving England a 3-1 series victory, edging to Ben Stokes at slip. Anderson had to be happy with figures that read 14-7-16-3 – and a total of seven wickets in the match.
When Amla and Du Plessis were together there were faint hopes among South Africa's more optimistic supporters that they could pull off a remarkable victory. They took the score from 40 for three at lunch to 163 before Ali turned one to hit Amla's inner pad. Despite the presence of minor activity on the bat edge, he was given out on review.
The tourists' number 3 has not had the best of series by his own high standards, averaging only 36, but he batted with growing conviction throughout the afternoon after a slow start that saw him extremely watchful against the impressive Anderson and Broad, scoring just two from his first 33 balls.
The conditions were undeniably helpful for the pacemen, certainly before the ball softened and lost some of its gloss, but Amla began to unfurl some smooth drives against Toby Roland-Jones, who has been his nemesis in this series, taking his wicket three times out of four, and Stokes.
He went to his 35th Test half-century with two fours in three balls off Stokes, the milestone arriving from the 100th delivery he had received.
Amla had found Ali a puzzle at first. He opted to counter his turn by moving right across his stumps, exposing them behind him. It was a slightly risky strategy as not only did he put those stumps in jeopardy but by tending to play a little front-on, he was in danger of being leg-before to any ball that clipped the inner pad. He finally found an outlet in the reverse sweep, which he played effectively even if against the turn.
But the shuffle across ultimately brought about his downfall in the way described when Ali returned for his next spell. He had made 83 from 159 balls with 13 fours and a six.
Broad, Anderson and Roland-jones combined to put England well on top at the lunch break which was taken belatedly after a rain break of about 45 minutes. Broad shot out Dean Elgar with a beautiful seaming delivery and Heino Kuhn was put out of his misery in a personally miserable series by Anderson's outswinger. Roland-Jones proved his golden arm had not totally deserted him when he found the thinnest of edges on Temba Bavuma's bat the ball before the interval.
Earlier, Morkel had ensured that he would at least finish the series as South Africa's leading wicket-taker by removing Broad and Anderson as England were bowled out for the addition of 23 runs to their overnight 220 for eight. It meant he pipped Maharaj, whose impressive left-arm spin had left him tied with the tall pace bowler on 17 wickets before the start, to the well-deserved honour.
Teatime report: (Day four) England 362 & 243 South Africa 226 & 183-6 (Du Plessis 60*, Maharaj 3*)
Moeen Ali was threatening to be England's all-round matchwinner again as he struck three times shortly before tea to stymie any thoughts South Africa had of a remarkable win in the fourth Test at Old Trafford.
Hashim Amla and Faf Du Plessis had batted superbly, adding 123 for the fourth wicket, when Joe Root brought Moeen back into the attack. He turned one from outside off and caught Amla on the inside pad, which, by playing front on, was now in line with his off stump.
Then he nipped out Quinton de Kock, the left-hander driving a ball spinning away from him into the hands of gully, and two balls later accounted for Theunis de Bruyn, who played inside one that failed to grip. Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes respectively took good, sharp, low catches.
Three wickets had gone for ten runs after Amla and Du Plessis had batted for two hours of the session, which had been extended after rain had caused a belated lunch.
Suddenly, Ali, already guaranteed to be the leading wicket-taker from either side with 20 victims, had three more. Not bad for a man who was not considered the premier spinner at the start of the series.
It was devastating for South Africa, as Amla had batted with growing belief as the afternoon progressed, an improbable target of.380 to claim victory and square the series not looking as distant as it had at lunch, which the tourists had taken at 40 for three..
The tourists' number 3, who had struggled to find his best form in this series, was pleased to at last find an adhesive partner in his captain. Amla had initially show great caution in dealing with Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad in conditions that strongly favoured the bowlers, but gradually opened up, playing smooth drives off the likes of Toby Roland-Jones, and locating an unconventional method against Ali.
From a score of two from his first 33 balls, he reached a 35th Test half-century off the 100th ball he received, two fours in three deliveries from Ben Stokes taking him to the landmark.
Amla had opted to counter Ali's turn by moving right across his stumps, exposing them behind him. It was a slightly risky strategy as not only did he put those stumps in jeopardy but by tending to play a little front-on, he was in danger of being leg-before to any ball that clipped the inner pad. He finally found an outlet in the reverse sweep, which he played effectively even if against the turn.
But the shuffle across ultimately brought about his downfall in the way described above when Ali returned for another spell. He had made 83 from 159 balls with 13 fours and a six.
Du Plessis moved to a 15th Test half-century but De Kock did not stay with him for long. He had looked completely bamboozled by Ali's spin even in the first innings – he was caught at slip cutting then – and an inopportune drive skewed off his outside edge and into the hands of Cook. De Bruyn fared worse.
England's two premier pace bowlers had left South Africa wobbling at lunch. Broad shot out Dean Elgar with a beautiful seaming delivery and Kuhn was put out of a miserable series by Anderson's outswinger..
Roland-Jones proved his golden arm had not totally deserted him, when he found the thinnest of edges on Temba Bavuma's bat the ball before lunch.
Morne Morkel had ensured he would finish the series as South Africa's leading wicket-taker by removing Broad and Anderson as England were bowled out for the addition of 23 runs to their 220 for eight overnight. It meant he pipped Keshav Maharaj, with whom he was tied on 17 wickets before the start, to the well-deserved honour.
Lunchtime report: England 362 & 243 South Africa 226 & 40-3 (Amla 11*)
Stuart Broad struck the first blow as South Africa were set 380 to win the final Test at Old Trafford and square the four-match series.
James Anderson and Toby Roland-Jones added the respective scalps of Heino Kuhn, caught first slip and Temba Bavuma, the latter edging to the wicketkeeper last ball before lunch, as the task for South Africa went from improbable to out of the question.
Dean Elgar, the victim of an early beauty from James Anderson in the first innings, got an equally good delivery from Broad that lifted and seamed away from him to find a thin edge that was swallowed by Jonny Bairstow. It has not been a great Test for the man who stood tall in the second innings at the Oval – he also spilled a couple of chances at slip, including one off Moeen Ali last night.
At the other end Anderson, eager to take what will probably by his final chance to claim a five-wicket haul at his home ground, continued to torment the ineffective Kuhn. England's slip cordon thought the 33-year-old, who had scored 102 runs in seven attempts before this innings, had touched yet another perfectly pitched outswinger, but umpire Kumar Dharmasena was unmoved – rightly, as was proved by the review.
However, Anderson did not have to wait long to add him to his 484 Test victims, a good length delivery doing enough to draw him into the edge, which carried comfortably to Alastair Cook at first slip.
Broad and Anderson had featured at the beginning of the fourth day as England extended their second innings from 224 for eight to 243. Broad carved a drive off Morne Morkel to cover before Anderson flapped at another from the lanky paceman that rose towards his armpit to give Theunis de Bruyn a simple catch at short leg. Ali remained 75 not out, adding one more boundary this morning.
Morkel's excellent figures of 4-41 from 13.1 overs, meant he finished with 19 wickets in the series, two more than Keshav Maharaj, who had been level with him on 17 at the start of the day, to be the tourists' leading wicket-taker.
South Africa's run-chase/reaguard action (delete as appropriate) was delayed for 50 minutes as they were forced off by a heavy shower as their openers took the field and with lunch pushed back by half an hour, Amla and Temba Bavuma looked like they would make it to the interval without further damage.
Ali, who will end the series as the leading wicket-taker on either side, was brought into the attack shortly before lunch while Toby Roland-Jones, who has removed Amla three times in three innings was introduced to see if he could unsettle South Africa's leading batsman again. But it was Amla's partner, who has provided much of his team's stern resistance in this series, that he ultimately captured.