Moeen Ali was adjudged Man of the Match for his all-round performance © Getty Images
Moeen Ali was adjudged Man of the Match for his all-round performance © Getty Images

In 2012, South Africa had spectacularly beaten England by 51 runs, eventually going on to win the series as well as the No. 1 spot in the rankings. It was the beginning of a new era. Graham Smith and co. had left the United Kingdom with the Test mace. England, on the other hand, began their downhill journey.

In 2017, India are the mace-bearers, but South Africa are still one ranking ahead of England, at No. 2. To fan the fire, England, had not emerged victorious against South Africa in the last 7 Tests at Lord’s, and the opening Test of the 2017 series was at the very venue.

South Africa were without their regular captain Faf du Plessis. He was rejoicing the birth of his first child, leaving the onus to Dean Elgar. Meanwhile, England turned a new leaf with Joe Root as the new captain.

Riding on his beginner’s luck, Root won the toss and elected to bat. What unfolded further will be chronologically articulated in CricketCountry’s highlights of the epic Lord’s Test.

England are 76 for 4

Vernon Philander unnerves Alastair Cook right away. 2 overs later, he does the same to Keaton Jennings. England lose both openers for 17.

Gary Ballance plays two lovely cover-drives, but Morkel Morkel comes round the wicket to trap him lbw with an absolute snorter.

Jonny Bairstow hits a few fours as well. However, Philander comes into the attack and makes Bairstow his third victim. England stutter at 76 for 4.

Welcome to the crease, Root

Root, the new England captain, starts with a cut over third-man. He then drives through covers, flicks past square-leg, punches down the ground, until he becomes the sixth English captain to score hundred on captaincy debut.

South Africa squander

Australia had paid the price of dropping Root. They had dropped him in the first Test of the 2015 Ashes. It was only the second ball of Root’s innings. Mitchell Starc had angled one away, making Root reach at it. Root had edged it to Brad Haddin. Mind you, England were in trouble at that stage; they were 3-down. If Australia had shot down Root, they would have been in command. However, the ball had popped out of Haddin’s gloves and Root went on to score a fine hundred, taking England to victory.

Fast forward to 2017. Root edges again. JP Duminy fails to get into position and gives a reprieve to Root on 16. The result was even worse: Root went on to score 190.

Morkel achieves an unwanted feat. He dismisses a batsman off a no-ball for the record 13th time. Ben Stokes is the lucky one batting on 44. He make full use of the luck and adds another 12 runs. Along with Root, he steadies the ship and stitches a 117-run stand for the fourth wicket.

Keshav Maharaj produces an encore in the last session. He has Root stumped off a no-ball.

Moeen rises to the occasion

Moeen bats down the order. His team is either in a commanding position or staring down the barrel when he comes to bat. It was the latter this time.

Root is going great guns but loses Stokes. England are 190 for 5 on a flat track. South Africa hurl bouncers at Moeen. However, Moeen translates his weakness into runs and plenty of them. He adds 177 with Root, scoring 87 off 147.

Broad hits consecutive sixes off Morkel

Stuart Broad has an international hundred, and a big one, too. One can comprehend the fact that he can hit consecutive sixes off Morkel. Having said, can you imagine James Anderson coming down the track to pull over deep mid-wicket? Even if you watch it multiple times, it is difficult to picture Anderson pull off something so stunning.

Elgar leads from the front

England post 458, South Africa lose debutant Heino Kuhn for 1. Hashim Amla plays his trademark flicks, but fails to do so against Moeen.

Elgar comes to rescue and scores a fifty to repel England. However, Moeen strikes again. Elgar holes out to forward short-leg for 51.

Three more half-centurions, but England still take lead

Temba Bavuma and Theunis de Bruyn adds 99 runs for the fifth wicket, but the latter falls 2 short of a well-deserved fifty. However, Bavuma continues his good work and notches up his 7th fifty.

Quinton de Kock does the same and how. He registers the second-fastest fifty at Lord’s.

Philander gets hit on his bowling hand, but shows tremendous character to add 52 vital runs.

Now Alastair is cooking!

Cook is in his elements in the second innings. He brings up his 54th half-century, providing a solid start. His opening partner goes for 33, as England end third day’s play with 9 wickets in hand.

19 wickets in a day’s time and the curtains are down

The Test is proceeding a steady rate. Wickets fall in quick succession, but the batters often make amends. However, the bowlers completely dominate the fourth day.

Maharaj cleans up Root and Moeen, who had added 277 runs combined in the first innings. Morkel sends the top order packing. Rabada, banned from the second Test for hurling an abusive word at Stokes, traps Stokes lbw. England lose 7 wickets for 43 runs, eventually bundling out for 233 and setting 331-run target.

South Africa already lose 3 wickets in the second session. They lose all in the last one. Moeen bags his maiden 10-wicket haul in a match. And England beat South Africa after 53 years at Lord’s.

Brief scores:

England 458 (Joe Root 190, Moeen Ali 87; Morne Morkel 4 for 115) and 233 (Alastair Cook 69, Jonny Bairstow 51; Kagiso Rabada 3 for 50, Keshav Maharaj 4 for 84) beat South Africa 361 (Dean Elgar 54, Temba Bavuma 59, Vernon Philander 52;  Moeen Ali 4 for 59, James Anderson 2 for 44) and 119 (Temba Bavuma 21; Moeen ALi 6 for 53) by 211 runs.

Man of the Match: Moeen Ali.

Full scorecard