Cape Town Test set for exciting finish as South Africa batsmen start well in 438-run chase

Proteas reach 126-2 after Dominic Sibley ton helps England set challenging target

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 06: South Africa batsman Pieter Malan picks up runs as England keeper Jos Buttler reacts during Day Four of the Second Test between South Africa and England at Newlands on January 06, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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The Cape Town Test is all set for a thrilling final day after South Africa reached 126-2 chasing a mammoth target of 438 set by England on Monday.

South Africa openers gave the hosts a solid start of 71 runs but England maintained the pressure, with veteran seamer James Anderson picking up the wicket of Zubayr Hamza in the penultimate over of the day to restore parity.

England, powered by a century from opener Dominic Sibley and a quickfire 72 off just 47 balls from Ben Stokes earlier in the day, had made 391-8 declared in their second innings to raise hopes of a series-leveling win.

However, the Proteas were in no mood to give up so soon. The pitch at Cape Town had eased up to a great extent, stretching England’s disciplined yet limited pace attack.

Stuart Broad, Anderson and Sam Curran were safely negotiated by South African openers Pieter Malan (63 not out) and Dean Elgar (34). It was the part-time leg-spin of Joe Denly that got the first breakthrough as he got the usually solid Elgar to get a faint edge behind.

Debutant Malan stood tall, consuming 193 balls to take the fight into the fifth day.

The match was earlier set up perfectly by Stokes who blasted South African bowlers to all parts. England added 92 runs in a little under 18 overs as Stokes went berserk and 127 runs in 27 overs in the first session. Stokes hit seven fours and three sixes during his outing, and took particular liking to left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj.

England were already in a strong position with a lead of 264 when play started and Stokes quickly put them in the driver’s seat.

The tourists declared on 391-8 soon after lunch with opener Sibley unbeaten on 133 not out. It was his first Test ton with a previous best of 29. While he did take 269 balls to reach three figures, he showed admirable application and resolve.

While the Proteas will be hopeful of victory, it would be a world record if they manage to pull it off. No team has made 400 or more in the fourth innings at Newlands. The highest last innings total at the ground is 354-5 by the West Indies in a draw in 2004. And the highest successful fourth-innings chase ever in Test cricket is 418.

And if the visitors manage to taste success, they will become the only visiting team other than Australia to win a Test at Newlands since South Africa returned to international cricket after apartheid.

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