England opt to bat in 4th Sth African Test

England opt to bat in 4th Sth African Test

Anderson needed just three balls to have Dean Elgar, fresh from a hundred in South Africa's 239-run defeat in the third Test at The Oval, lbw for a duck in the first over of the Proteas' reply. And, as Root ground through to his fifty from 91 balls, South Africa might have feared it would be equally ruinous to their series prospects.

A few pieces of England's batting jigsaw came together at The Oval - Alastair Cook showing the virtues of defence, Ben Stokes' maturing as Test batsman and Tom Westley's promising debut - but they need to back it up this week otherwise progress will remain stilted.

England has reaped the rewards of their consistency. Under-pressure Keaton Jennings, who averaged just 15 runs during the series coming into the fourth and final Test, fell for 17 off the bowling of Olivier. The game was really won by the way we batted in the first innings.

"The way he played in that second innings was extremely great to see, hopefully that'll lead into some more runs".

Steven Finn replaced Mark Wood for the fourth Test after the latter injured himself. Then it could pay to back this England side, which should be full of momentum after that win.

He has the best strike rate of any of them. Another point worth mentioning is Root's judicious use of the decision review system, proving that DRS can be a useful weapon if used correctly.

Shikhar Dhawan had his vacation in Hong Kong cut short after being recalled to India's Test squad to face Sri Lanka in the first Test in Galle.

Heino Kuhn struggled desperately with his timing, technique and a tight hamstring. And on Day 1 of this final Test match, they were 260 for 6 in their allotted 90 overs versus South Africa. The dark brown hue of the pitch suggested moisture, though not enough to deter Root from choosing to bat, and there was movement for South Africa's pace bowlers. One of their priorities this time around should be getting off to a good start with the bat, something that has been impossible thanks to Kuhn.

They did so to good effect in a 37-run stand spanning 16 overs, as they resolved to leave anything wide, block anything straight, and pick off the straight ones for ones and twos through the leg side. An unforced error. England have put on 50 for the last partnership and have made over 350 again. Not for the first time it was a meek dismissal for Jennings, a half-hearted push nestling safely in Quinton De Kock's gloves.

That lower order for England looks so much more unsafe with Bairstow and Ali coming in where they are.

And that soft dismissal could spell the end for the Durham left-hander at Test level, with the selectors facing a hard decision ahead of the West Indies series, as attention begins to turn to the make-up of the touring party for the Ashes, which start in Brisbane in November.

That seemed slightly over par, with Anderson ramming home an advantage that looks set to result in England's first home series win against South Africa since 1998.

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