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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Mark Wood shines with bat and ball to put South Africa on the brink

Mark Wood and Stuart Broad reach their 50 partnership Getty Images

South Africa 88 for 6 (de Kock 32*, Wood 3-21) trail England 400 (Crawley 66, Root 59, Pope 56) by 312 runs

With South Africa, it seems as though it's one step forward, several back. Not a good match-up against an England side which made those retreating steps look like several hundred on another eventful day at the Wanderers.

What should have been Anrich Nortje's day after he claimed his maiden Test five-for in just his sixth appearance ended very much as England's, who posted a first-innings total of 400 - thanks in no small part to a record 10th-wicket stand between Stuart Broad and Mark Wood - and finished the day with South Africa too many wickets down and too many runs in arrears.

In Wood's case it was a day to savour for a player clearly thrilled to be on the park after a battle with injury, caution over whether he should play back-to-back Tests for the first time since 2017 and concerns he may be feeling the effects of his first match back in six months. The short turnaround from Port Elizabeth invited caution, but with Jofra Archer already out injured, England had little choice but to choose Wood, who likely wouldn't have had it any other way, and he put all those worries to rest with a memorable performance.

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Resuming on 192 for 4 after a mini-collapse on the opening day, Joe Root and Ollie Pope put on a 101-run partnership, both reaching their half-centuries with Pope's all the more impressive because it followed scores of 3, 61 not out and 135 not out in what has been a breakthrough series for a 22-year-old playing his seventh Test match. But both will have been disappointed not to have converted after falling for 59 and 56 respectively.

Their demise was due to an excellent eight-over spell from Nortje in the morning session, which delivered three wickets in 40 runs with relentless pace despite the length of his shift as he consistently hovered around the 90mph/145kph mark. Pope and Root took to him at times with their pull shots but Nortje was not discouraged.

Nortje struck with the first ball after drinks, in his fifth over of the day, when he had Pope flummoxed over whether to play or leave, the batsman opting too late for the latter and chopping on as he shouldered arms.

Nortje then saw Root put down by Faf du Plessis at slip but again he kept his chin up and was rewarded in his next over with two wickets in consecutive balls: first he had Root edging behind to Quinton de Kock after being drawn into an attempted drive and it was hard to tell who was more pleased - Nortje or du Plessis. Then Sam Curran fell for a golden duck slashing at a wide delivery and sending another edge to de Kock.

Pope's dismissal had brought Jos Buttler to the crease and if ever a man needed to silence his critics with a pile of runs, this was Buttler's moment. It wasn't to be, however, as Buttler sent a Vernon Philander delivery high towards cover where Dean Elgar claimed the catch. It was a notable moment, given Buttler's and Philander's run-in at Newlands and it did appear as though Philander, in his final Test, had the last word in this particular rivalry - and not just in the metaphorical sense.

When Nortje, who had dismissed Ben Stokes late on the first day, had Chris Woakes caught by du Plessis for a handy 32 to claim his fifth wicket, it should, on paper, have signalled the beginning of the end for the England innings. But Broad and Wood had other ideas.

The pair found the boundary and cleared it with glee in a union worth 82 runs, the highest 10th wicket partnership ever seen at the Wanderers. Broad smashed four sixes and two fours en route to 43 off 28 balls while Wood struck three sixes and two fours in his unbeaten 35 off 39.

When Broad's became the last England wicket to fall, he raced off only to race back on again and open the bowling. Wood, who played his first match in six months at Port Elizabeth last week, was given longer to rest, only coming into the attack in the 11th over, just before tea.

South Africa openers Pieter Malan and Elgar took their side to the break with all wickets intact and while their stubborn start did a job in taking the shine off the new ball, it wasn't eating into England's lead in any hurry.

Wood showed no sign of fatigue from his batting efforts when he returned after an extra 20 minutes with his feet up in the tea room. In his second over after the break, he peppered Malan with consecutive deliveries at 92, 91 and 92mph/147kph.

But the ball which eventually did for Malan a little while later was clocked at a staggering 94mph/151kph with pin-point line and length snaring an edge that went through to keeper Buttler.

So began a steady stream of wickets, two more to Wood to give him figures of 3 for 21 off 8.5 overs, with one each to Curran, Stokes - who looked embarrassed by the ease with which he suckered Elgar into a prod to Woakes - and then Woakes with an lbw decision against du Plessis upheld on review, as South Africa went to stumps in dire trouble.

South Africa 4th innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st39D ElgarPJ Malan
2nd50D ElgarHE van der Dussen
3rd92F du PlessisHE van der Dussen
4th6HE van der DussenQ de Kock
5th48T BavumaQ de Kock
6th4D PretoriusQ de Kock
7th21VD PhilanderQ de Kock
8th7Q de KockA Nortje
9th6BE HendricksA Nortje
10th1D PatersonA Nortje

ICC World Test Championship

TeamMWLDPTSWRpWr
INDIA770036032.897
AUS1072129621.604
ENG953114611.068
PAK522114010.984
SL41218000.589
NZ51406000.698
SA71602400.521
WI2020000.411
BDESH3030000.351