Kagiso Rabada tears through England in Centurion

Tourists on course for first loss of series as South Africa move into 175-run lead

Kagiso Rabada took seven wickets for South Africa to remove England for 342 on day three in Centurion. Photograph: Getty

England’s chances of an unbeaten tour of South Africa took a hefty blow on day three of the fourth Test as 20-year-old tyro Kagiso Rabada ran through their batting order in Centurion.

Rabada was on the losing side despite taking a maiden five-wicket haul in Johannesburg but he put the Proteas well on course for a consolation victory with career-best figures of seven for 112.

With Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander injured, Rabada has been thrust to the fore in this series and he bowled with sustained pace and penetration that belied his inexperience.

England were dismissed for 342 and were 175 behind by stumps as South Africa moved to 42 for one in the second innings.


On a pitch that has shown frequent examples of irregular bounce, notably shooters around off stump from the Pavilion End, the size of the hosts’ advantage may already be decisive.

England will not relish any kind of fourth innings chase but with Kyle Abbott nursing a hamstring injury, South Africa may also find themselves short of options at the business end of the match.

Indeed, it seems as though Rabada will again have to shoulder a sizeable burden alongside Morne Morkel.

The day began with Alastair Cook and Joe Root together at 138 for two, on 67no and 31no respectively.

For an hour they dulled South Africa’s optimism, Cook scoring just nine runs in that time but gritting his teeth in fully-fledged survival mode.

Root, as is his style, played a breezier hand.

He scored a decent rate, driving and upper-cutting Abbott and taking 15 runs off Rabada’s fourth over the day.

The wheel turned just before drinks when Morkel came round the wicket to Cook, forced him to play and kissed the outside edge.

Cook departed for 76 and opened the door.

It was Rabada who burst through it, returning for a fast, accurate second spell that brought the wickets of Root (76), James Taylor (14) and Jonny Bairstow (nought).

Root was drawn in on length and beaten on his outside edge, Taylor mistimed a pull and Bairstow gloved one as it seamed in. All three were caught by Quinton de Kock.

England had lost four for 73, with Root responsible for 45.

Rain ensured false start to the afternoon session but when play resumed, Ben Stokes found himself in centre stage.

He raced to 33, muscling the older, softer ball to the boundary five times and over the top — off Dane Piedt — once.

But Rabada needed just two deliveries with the new ball to end his fun, shading one towards the cordon and providing Hashim Amla with a regulation slip catch.

An England follow-on appeared possible when Chris Woakes nicked a short ball to De Kock, but he could not reach high enough to hold on to his fifth of the innings.

Woakes put that behind him and set about adding 43 alongside fellow Birmingham boy Moeen.

It was a tidy stand from the lower-order pair, with Moeen deflecting the ball dexterously and Woakes chipping in with some confident, orthodox strokes.

The pair were just beginning to look at ease when the part-time off-spin of JP Duminy struck.

Woakes' nick was not gathered by De Kock but that was where his luck ended, as the ball cannoned off the wicketkeeper's knee and looped to Dean Elgar at slip.

Moeen batted intelligently with Broad and Anderson, coaxing stands worth 47 out of the tail-end pair and, with 61, making his highest score in 15 innings.

Broad became the seventh and last of Rabada’s victims when he picked out deep midwicket and Moeen completed the innings by chipping Piedt to cover.

Taking to the field 133 in arrears, England at least made an early breakthrough.

Anderson, who has had a tour to forget thus far, needed just eight balls to account for Elgar.

He located the perfect line to the left-hander, who moved to protect his off stump and nudged the rising ball off his outside edge.

Bairstow, who has sought the counsel of the great South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher to improve his glovework, moved his feet well to take the catch comfortably to his left.

England needed more of the same and quickly but the best they managed was a sore thumb for Hashim Amla, who was hit by the threatening Stokes before bad light intervened.