Moeen Ali took 3 wickets towards the end of the second session    Getty Images
Moeen Ali took 3 wickets towards the end of the second session Getty Images

After a 54, 80 and a 136 earlier on the tour, Dean Elgar failed to put up any impact with his bat in the fourth Test. However, as he subsequently saw other top-order batsmen depart cheaply, Hashim Amla played a responsible 83-run knock to keep his team in contention again England at Old Trafford. It was Amla s partnership with skipper Faf du Plessis that had South Africa‘s hopes alive but as the teams took tea on Monday, England were on top of the game, courtesy, Moeen Ali’s tripple strike. England, who are leading the series 2-1, earlier put the visitors under pressure setting a 380-run target in the match that South Africa must win in order to end the series in a draw.

Almost like a replica of what had happened in the previous South Africa innings, Elgar departed early on. Amla came out to bat, well aware of the pressure of the runs on his shoulder. He saw Heino Kuhn depart in the same session, but himself stuck around at the crease. South Africa pinned their hopes on Temba Bavuma, who was the lone performer previously. But Bavuma too failed to play a longer knock and South Africa were reduced to 40 for, with Amla unbeaten with captain Faf du Plessis, with 340 runs to be scored.

Coming back from tea, Amla and du Plessis played very carefully. They would not try to play a single delivery that produced a slightest of confusion in their mind. The pair took quite some time to take South Africa past the mark of fifty. However, then there came a certain Toby Roland-Jones over that accelerated the scoring rate suddenly. Amla made room off the second delivery of the over to hit a square drive. He hit another boundary off the fourth delivery. The two boundaries built pressure on the bowler, and came a loose ball which Amla made full use of, making a 12-run over out.

The over, besides providing South Africa with runs, gave confidence to the duo. They chose not to mess with Stuart Broad and steal singles off his overs while Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Roland-Jones had no respite for slightest of mistakes. Within the next eight overs, South Africa had hundred on the board.

Amla filled his knock with delightful strokes and got to his half-century, a much-needed one for South Africa. Du Plessis provided him with the perfect support from the other end; their partnership added in excess of 100 runs while South Africa s runs on the board cruised past 150.

There was one shot that has to stand out of the handful of boundaries hit in the session but it came from du Plessis bat. It was a full length delivery that came in to the Proteas captain, who stretched forward and connected so sweetly that the ball danced off to the mid-on boundary.

England bowlers produced half-chances throughout the session catches dropping short of fielders, deliveries almost getting the edge. Joe Root himself bowled an over, but it was not until Moeen Ali reviewed one of his deliveries that England got their desired wicket. Amla, trying to play one across, got it on his pad but umpire Kumar Dharmasena was convinced of that not being a dismissal. Upon review, the ultra edge showed there being no bat despite there being a confusing spike. The impact was well in the line of middle-stump while the ball-tracker showed the ball hitting the lef-stump, which overturned the on-field decision and sent Amla back for 83.

Du Plessis, with a boundary, got to his half-century. He had Quinton de Kock at the other end and South Africa still looked to have a good chance to get the job done. But Moeen went on to take two more wickets soon after, sending both de Kock (1) and Theunis de Bruyn (0) back.

Mooen s spell left South Africa depleted, reducing them to 173 for 6.

As South Africa take tea, they are 182 for 6 with du Plessis (60*) and Keshav Maharaj (3*) unbeaten.

Brief scores:

England 362 and 243 (Joe Root 49, Moeen Ali 75*; Morne Morkel 4 for 41, Kagiso Rabada 2 for 50, Duanne Olivier 3 for 38) lead South Africa 226 & 182 for 6 (Hashim Amla 83, Faf du Plessis 60*; James Anderson 1 for 11, Moeen Ali 3 for 54) by 198 runs.