England's Mark Wood celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of South Africa's JP Duminy.   Picture: REUTERS
England's Mark Wood celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of South Africa's JP Duminy. Picture: REUTERS

London — South Africa’s unlikely bid to win the first Test against England was receding rapidly at tea on the fourth day at Lord’s on Sunday.

The visitors‚ chasing 331 to win‚ were 25/3 — still 306 runs away from victory. Hashim Amla was alone at the crease on 11 not out.

South Africa’s hopes were higher at lunch‚ which England stumbled to on 182/8 having lost seven wickets for 63 runs in the morning session.

But the home side rallied after the interval‚ batting on for 11.1 overs and adding 51 runs before they were dismissed.

Morne Morkel and Keshav Maharaj spearheaded South Africa’s fightback after England resumed on 119/1. Morkel took two wickets for one run in the space of 10 balls in the midst of a seven-over spell of 2/12.

Maharaj also claimed two of his wickets for one run‚ and in five deliveries‚ in a spell of eight overs in which he took 3/31.

Kagiso Rabada kept the pressure on and took 2/11 in his five overs.

Alastair Cook and Gary Ballance took their second-wicket stand to 59 before Morkel had a driving Cook smartly caught in the covers by Temba Bavuma for 69.

Morkel removed Ballance in his next over‚ caught behind for 34‚ and seven balls later Maharaj bowled Joe Root — who scored 190 in the first innings — off the edge of his bat for five.

A slide of four wickets for 10 runs in 39 balls was complete when Rabada trapped Ben Stokes in front for a single.

Rabada landed in trouble with match referee Jeff Crowe for swearing at Stokes in the first innings.

This time‚ as Stokes passed him on his way back to the pavilion‚ Rabada stayed silent and rubbed a hand over his head.

During the South Africans’ celebration for the fall of the wicket‚ captain Dean Elgar put his hand over Rabada’s mouth in a mock attempt to keep him quiet. Rabada then held a finger to his own lips.

England would have been 159/6 had Vernon Philander at deep cover held a catch offered by Jonny Bairstow off Maharaj.

The spilled chance might have been caused by the hand injury that prevented Philander from bowling on Saturday‚ but he gestured skywards after the ball fell to earth — perhaps an indication that he had been distracted.

Play was momentarily interrupted on Saturday when the spidercam‚ the television camera suspended on cables above the ground‚ caught the attention of the batsmen.

The last three wickets of the session fell for two runs and were separated by 11 balls.

Maharaj bowled Moeen Ali for seven with a delivery that pitched outside the left-hander’s off stump and turned sharply to hit the outside of leg.

Rabada condemned Dawson to a pair for the match by bowling him with a full toss that left middle stump lying metres away from the wicket.

Stuart Broad‚ who hammered an unbeaten 57 off 47 balls in the first innings‚ was gone first ball when another wickedly turning delivery from Maharaj took the edge and was superbly caught by Theunis de Bruyn at short leg.

But the South Africans let things slip after lunch‚ and Jonny Bairstow was given enough support by tailenders Mark Wood and James Anderson to score 51 before being being stumped off Maharaj to end the innings.

Elgar and debutant Heino Kuhn were separated after seven overs of South Africa’s second innings when Anderson had Kuhn caught down the leg side for nine.

Thirteen balls later Elgar was on his way for two when Moeen took a hard-hit return catch.

JP Duminy pulled meatily at Wood with that became the last ball before tea — and was well held by Moeen at short midwicket for two.

Moeen did not concede a run in his three overs.

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