England were made to work hard on Day 3 © Getty Images
England were made to work hard on Day 3 © Getty Images

South Africa made a mockery of England on Day Three of the second Test at Trent Bridge. Despite being cautious throughout the day, Proteas declared at 343 for 9, leading by 473 runs. England created few chances but were overshadowed as the day progressed owing to a big first-innings lead and defensive plans. They never ran through the South African innings and are now staring at the brink of defeat. They have to chase 474 runs, a record target, or bat out two full days to save the Test. Let us walk through the top moments from Day Three.

Elgar’s imperfect yet resilient knock: Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla started the proceedings on Day Three. Elgar was rusty on Saturday evening and began on the same note. He edged, played away from the body, showed minimum footwork, but hung in there. It was a resilient and stubborn knock from the left-hander as he completed his eighth half-century. He countered the off-side balls by coming way across the stumps and pouncing on the deliveries targetted on his pads. His rusty innings finally came to an end on 80.

It wasn’t a convincing knock but surely a fighting one, thereby setting the tone of the day for the tourists.

Sudden dent in Proteas’ progress: Elgar and Amla had added 135 runs for the second wicket. More importantly, they played out the first hour with caution and placed South Africa on top. However, Elgar’s dismissal triggered a mini collapse before lunch. Quinton De Kock came in at No. 4 but departed soon, edging one off James Anderson which was angling away from him.

The senior pros upto the task: Resuming after lunch, Amla and Faf du Plessis resurrected the innings. It was a flawless knock from Amla, whereas Faf was equally aware of the situation. Together the duo were involved in a resolute 62-run stand. The idea was to trigger ‘slow death’ of the hosts by putting a price on their scalps. Amla was disciplined as ever, but fell for 87 falling prey to Liam Dawson.

Du Plessis continued till the evening session before perishing for 63. His innings comprised of 9 fours which included a few lovely drives off the pacers. He blocked anything which was pitched in the right channel and timed his strokes as well.

Hosts down and out: England never got going the entire day. They created minimal chances as well as slightly unlucky, adopting a defensive mindset since then. They were grumpy to say the least. The ploy looked certain to slow things down and contain runs with South Africa’s lead racing away with every session. Root could have employed his spinners much early to instigate things from Proteas’ dugout (Moeen Ali finished with a four-for). The pace battery was good at times, but failed to trigger breakthroughs. They had to do wait for the opponents to accelerate to get some quick wickets in the end.

Set in a humongous target of 474, England had a nervy start courtesy fine bowling by Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel. There were many lbw shouts, batsmen being beaten as the red cherry was doing a bit. Hosts looked clueless throughout with bizarre DRS reviews. There was too much reliance on pace attack, late use of spinners and shaky start with the willow. It very much sums up the Test match as well. The only respite for England was some good catching towards the fag end of South Africa’s innings.