Image courtesy of: Zimbio
England all-rounder Moeen Ali took a game-winning hat-trick to lead his side to a convincing 239-run victory over South Africa on the final day of the third Test at The Oval.
The win, which put England 2-1 up in the four-Test series, was made even more special by the fact that it was the 100th Test match to be held at the venue in London.
Starting off the day on 117/4, Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma managed to convert their 65-run partnership into a 108-run stand before Bavuma was given out lbw off the bowling of debutant Toby Roland-Jones for 32.
With Vernon Philander suffering the same fate the very next ball, the Proteas began to rebuild their innings, but despite Elgar and Chris Morris putting together a 45-run partnership, during which Elgar surpassed his hundred, Morris was dismissed by Moeen for 24.
Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Elgar ended up making 136 off 228 balls, which included 20 boundaries, before he was caught by Ben Stokes at slip off the bowling of Moeen.
Moeen then proceeded to remove Kagiso Rabada on the final ball of the 76th over before killing two birds with one stone on the first ball of his next over as he trapped Morne Morkel lbw to secure his hat-trick and wrapped up the match for England.
Moeen was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Roland-Jones took three, Stokes took two and Stuart Broad claimed one.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was disappointed to have lost the match, and said: “It’s very obvious we missed Vernon, 350 was hundred runs too many but you have to give credit to how the England team played. Four down on the first day was a really good effort.
“Vernon is one of those world-class performers you take him at 50%, we knew he’d be sick and the plan was to hopefully win the toss and bat and give him an extra day. We thought he’d be back for days two, three four and five. We missed him in the first innings to put more pressure on England.
“It’s very obvious the mistakes we made here and in the first Test. With the bat we weren’t able to withstand the pressure. It’s important you fight through it, but we didn’t do that. It’s been a very strange series, extreme from one to another, we don’t have to scratch our heads – it’s basic. Dean’s knock was amazing and something we can look towards.”
England skipper Joe Root was delighted to have bounced back from the loss at Trent Bridge, and said: “What a way to celebrate the 100th Test at this ground. It’s been a great week for us. The way we batted first innings was very important, found a good tempo and it’s a benchmark for us.
“Was a challenging wicket which got better as the game went on. We always felt we were ahead of the game from there. [Alastair’s] innings was crucial, we could have been five/six down. That’s why he’s scored so many runs. At no point have we made excuses, always looking to improve, and most pleasing thing is we’ve responded. Will be hard for [TRJ] to top that, great to see him take to it like a duck to water. Important he stays level but he’s got a mature head.”
Stokes was named Man of the Match, and said: “I felt I had to work pretty hard early on. The wicket was offering a bit, especially to Philander, can’t count how many times he beat the bat so it’s pleasing when you get through the tough times. I’ll ways try to play in the same way, be positive, whether that’s attack or defence.
“It came off this week so hopefully I can go forward. I asked Joe at the end if it was sliding down, it was a dramatic ending. Credit to Dean Elgar, was good to see the back of him. Congrats to Mo. The last spell at Trent Bridge was a confidence boost and hopefully I’ll keep getting the rewards.”