|Third Investec Test, The Kia Oval, day five|
|England 353 & 313-8 dec: Bairstow 63, Westley 59, Maharaj 3-50|
|South Africa 175 & 252 (77.1 overs): Elgar 136, Moeen 4-45|
|England won by 239 runs|
England’s Moeen Ali took a hat-trick to wrap up a 239-run victory over South Africa in the third Test at The Oval.
The off-spinner had Dean Elgar, who made 136, caught at slip, Kagiso Rabada dismissed in the same manner then trapped Morne Morkel lbw on review.
Moeen finished with 4-45 as South Africa, chasing an unlikely 492, were bowled out for 252.
England lead the series 2-1 with only the fourth Test at Old Trafford to play.
That match begins on Friday, when the hosts will look to buck a recent trend in home Tests in which they have followed an emphatic win with a heavy defeat.
Whatever happens in Manchester, South Africa will not be able to register a third successive Test series win in England and are in danger of losing here for the first time since 1998.
Moeen’s moment of magic
With South Africa 252-7, England realistically had the game won when Moeen began his 15th over in the hour after lunch, but that takes nothing away from the theatre of the moment.
The obdurate Elgar finally played a loose shot to edge to Ben Stokes and, next ball, Rabada poked forward to give a catch to the same man.
With the over completed, Moeen had to wait for the chance of the hat-trick, and hurried the ball into the pads of Morkel only for a huge appeal to be turned down.
The review came instantly, the crowd at The Oval nervously watched replays on the big screen and then joined in with the joyous celebration of the England team when Morkel’s fate was sealed.
Moeen is only the fourth man in Test history to seal victory with a hat-trick and the first for 60 years.
The Roland-Jones show and Elgar’s lone hand
Not since James Kirtley took eight wickets against South Africa at Trent Bridge in 2003 has an England bowler made a bigger impact on his Test debut than Toby Roland-Jones.
The tall pace bowler had Temba Bavuma and Vernon Philander lbw to successive deliveries to finish with match figures of 8-129.
That left the battling Elgar to resist with the lower order and, though he was clearly struggling with an injured left hand, he played pulls and drives to move from an overnight 72 to an eighth Test century.
The opener had the chance to become the first South Africa player to carry his bat since he did it against England at Durban in 2015.
After he fell, Moeen ensured the game ended quickly.
Can England back it up?
England’s task at Old Trafford is not only to seal a first Test series win in four attempts, but also to improve a pattern of mixed results in home matches.
Of their previous nine wins on home soil, five have been followed immediately by a loss.
Not only that, they must find a way to win Tests when they do not bat first.
This result extends an excellent record of batting first in home Tests – it is now 14 wins in 17 matches dating back to 2013.
However, their record fielding first is poor, only four wins from 14 matches in the same period, worse than all but Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
It is up to Joe Root’s side to find more than one way of winning a Test.
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The hard work was done on the first day – analysis
Ex-England captain Michael Vaughan: “After Trent Bridge it was important someone set their stall out to remind England how to play in those conditions – Alastair Cook did that very well in the first innings.
“The intent of the England team this week, the effort, they looked prepared to put the hard work in. We want to see that on a consistent basis – as soon as they lose the toss.
“Bowling first in English conditions, England have to get better at that. We will see who wins the toss at Old Trafford because clearly it’s had a big impact on the teams.”
Former England batsman Ed Smith: “The conditions on the first day with overhead cloud and lights on was the moment England had to play really well, they did so and set it up from there.
“We are seeing a side that can construct a first innings in an old-fashioned way, show resilience. It’s a great bounce back after an abject performance at Trent Bridge.”
‘Cook’s innings was crucial’ – what they said
England captain Joe Root: “What a way to celebrate the 100th Test at this ground. The way we batted in the first innings was really important and set a good benchmark for us. The way we bowled first up was exceptional.
“Alastair Cook’s innings was crucial – we could have gone five or six down but the way he played was brilliant, he knows his game and played accordingly.”
‘My hundred was hard work’
England all-rounder Ben Stokes on his first-innings century: “I had to work really hard, with the wicket offering a lot to their bowlers, particularly for Vernon Philander.
“We put ourselves in a great position with that first-innings score. I’ll always try to play positively, whether that be in attack or defence, and it came off this week.”
On Moeen Ali’s hat-trick: “I couldn’t believe it didn’t get given straight away! It was a dramatic end to a dramatic day – Dean Elgar hit a really gutsy hundred and it was good to see the back of him, so congratulations to Mo.”
Magical Moeen – stats corner
- Moeen’s hat-trick is the first in Test cricket with three left-handed batsmen as victims
- There have only been two other match-ending hat-tricks in Test cricket: George Lohmann (England v SA, 1896) and Hugh Trumble (Australia v England, 1902)
- South Africa’s innings was the first in Test cricket to include four first-ball ducks
- It was the 43rd hat-trick in Tests and 14th for England
- It was also the first by an England spinner since 1938
‘SA need to learn how to tough it out’
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis: “From a batting point of view our consistency was lacking.
“You have to get through tough conditions, there’s no excuse, you have to limit to damage.
“Our first innings put us so far behind and we had to do something special to come back.”