Ali halts spirited Proteas fightback

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06:  Duanne Olivier of South Africa celebrates dismissing Ben Stokes of England during day three of the 4th Investec Test match between England and South Africa at Old Trafford on August 6, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06: Duanne Olivier of South Africa celebrates dismissing Ben Stokes of England during day three of the 4th Investec Test match between England and South Africa at Old Trafford on August 6, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

THE Standard Bank Proteas showed their character in making a spirited fightback with the ball before a spectacular counter-attack by Moeen Ali made sure England maintained their advantage on the third day of the final Test match at Old Trafford in Manchester on Sunday.

At one stage the Proteas had England six down for 134 runs which placed England 270 ahead but Ali then put his foot down and when rain brought an early close he had contributed an unbeaten 67 (59 balls, 8 fours and 3 sixes) to an England total of 224/8 which gave the home side an overall lead of 360 runs.

In the process Moeen made a mockery of the difficulties the other batsmen had had in coming to terms with a difficult pitch as he launched a calculated attack on Keshav Maharaj.

With two full days still available, although the weather could be an issue, England are unlikely to declare any time soon as it is the Proteas who have to make the running to win the match and square the series.

The only other England batsman to make a show was their captain, Joe Root (49 off 106 balls, 6 fours).

Duanne Olivier continued his upwards curve by matching his previous best figures of 3/38 and he will have the chance to improve further when England resume their second innings tomorrow. His victims today were all quality ones in Root, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow.