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England facing record chase as South Africa grind toward victory

16 July 2017 19:55

South Africa tightened their grip on the second Test against England thanks to a third day of steady accumulation at Trent Bridge.

Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla and returning captain Faf du Plessis all brought up half-centuries, with the home attack forced to toil for their wickets before the Proteas declared on 343-9.

Alastair Cook had a first-ball lbw dismissal by Morne Morkel overturned on review as England began an improbable attempt at what would be a world-record chase of 474 and, even though he and Keaton Jennings nervily reached one without loss at the close, Joe Root's side are likely to head to The Oval at 1-1 in the four-match series.

After breezing to a 211-run win in his first Test in charge at Lord's, Root has become more attuned to the harsh realities of captaincy in the longest format in Nottingham, with a paltry first-innings effort of 205 leaving England chasing the game.

Opener Elgar and Amla resumed on 75 for one and set about methodically building upon their overnight lead of 205 on a morning of ragged frustration for their opponents.

Elgar, not always the easiest batsman on the eye, passed 50 with a thick outside edge off James Anderson and another nick off Stuart Broad fell safely in the following over.

Broad and England then offered up an error they could ill afford – appealing half-heartedly and neglecting to use a review when replays showed Amla feathered a delivery behind to Jonny Bairstow when on 25.

In Broad's next set of six, new-ball partner Anderson dropped a tough one-handed chance at gully after Elgar slashed at a wide one, but England were rewarded for their persistence with two wickets in as many overs before lunch.

Ben Stokes – who bustled in impressively for his 2-34 – unsettled Elgar with some short stuff and the left-hander appeared to pull out of his stroke as he lobbed a catch to square leg to depart for 80.

Anderson (2-45) was the catcher and he then encouraged the dangerous Quinton de Kock to edge behind.

Amla remained at lunch, having brought up his fifty with a six off Liam Dawson, as he did in the first innings, although the Hampshire all-rounder had South Africa's number three dismissed leg before on review, 13 shy of a century.

Dawson's fellow spinner Moeen Ali was ignored by Root until mid-afternoon but helped himself to 4-78 as South Africa belatedly looked to hit out after reaching tea on 236 for four.

Du Plessis crunched three through the covers off Moeen to raise his bat but saw partner Temba Bavuma continue his struggles against spin by lofting the Worcestershire man to Root at mid-off.

Anderson, Broad and Mark Wood all summoned probing but unrewarding spells with the second new ball before Stokes pinned Du Plessis in front for 63 with one that kept low.

Gary Ballance and Stuart Broad held fine catches as Chris Morris and Keshav Maharaj tried to slog Moeen with the declaration in sight.

Vernon Philander had more success in that regard during a breezy 42 that ended with a caught and bowled for Moeen, although his more decisive work is probably still to come with ball in hand alongside Morkel, who bowled with palpable menace during a gripping end to the day.

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