There was a brief moment in the first session when it seemed the series gods might finally have smiled on South Africa. Anrich Nortje took a streak of wickets, England were under some trouble, and South Africa went into lunch on the ascendancy.
Unfortunately for South Africa, the series reverted to type thereafter. England, despite being reduced to 269/7, managed to post 400 in their first innings, with the likes of Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Stuart Broad adding valuable lower order runs.
Then, it emerged well and clear that South Africa’s batting worries run to the very core of the side. Mark Wood tormented the batsmen, and by the time stumps were drawn, South Africa were reduced to 88/6. There is only one way they can go from here – further down.
England, meanwhile, will be pretty pleased with themselves. They came through the tough periods, and reversed the pressure on the hosts, with their lower order grinding on, irrespective of what South Africa captain Faf du Plessis through at them. South Africa never showed have allowed England to get away once they had them seven down, but their recovery completely shifted the momentum.
It also served to add a psychological headache to their batsmen already suffering from lack of morale. As far as South Africa are concerned, it’s just as well that Jofra Archer wasn’t fit for the day – had he been involved here, it’s difficult to imagine just how much more the South African batsmen could take.
And so, England now hold all the cards. Despite all the rain delays, England are still well within their rights to want to finish things off on the third day. And given South Africa’s batting abilities at the moment, that’s very likely.
Mark Wood (England): The South African batsmen just cannot handle his pace, and he made the pitch look a different one to the one England were batting on. He’s already tormented the line-up, and with South Africa most likely going to follow on tomorrow, Wood will have a good crack at them.
Quinton de Kock (South Africa): Too much has rested on de Kock’s shoulders this series, and he has delivered. Unfortunately, he has been completely lacking in support. De Kock will be within his rights to hope for some assistance tomorrow, and if South Africa want to get themselves out of this hole, they better give him that.
England 400 in 98.2 overs (Zack Crawley 66, Ollie Pope 59; Anrich Nortje 5/110) vs South Africa 88/6 in 41.5 overs (Quinton de Kock 32*; Mark Wood 3/21)
England to win by an innings.