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Smith anchors SA to a superb win to seal series 2-0

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South Africa have won the 4-Test Match Series 2-0 with still one more Test Match to go after a superb 5-wicket win at Edgbaston today. Skipper Graeme Smith played a terrific Captain’s knock under pressure to dash England’s hopes of coming back in the Series. The South African Skipper saw SA through the entire chase of 281 and in the process got himself an unbeaten 154. England fought very hard till the end but it was the temperament of the South African Captain that sealed the match for the visitors. Mark Boucher played the support role to perfection in the match winning stand of an unbeaten 112 runs for the 6th wicket. It is a historic series win for the Proteas as it was only their first one in England since 1965.

England started the fourth day’s play at 297 for 6 with yesterday’s centurion Paul Collingwood and Tim Ambrose at the crease. Morne Morkel ended that partnership very early in the morning session, infact with England adding just a single to their overnight total. Tim Ambrose (19 from 80 balls) got cleaned up with a lovely away going delivery from the tall bowler. After that SA were a bit frustrated by Sidebottom who helped Collingwood gather some useful runs. Morkel once again came to his team’s rescue and he bounced out Sidebottom (22 from 48 balls with 5 fours) to end what was a fabulous partnership of 65. South Africa could take the remaining two wickets including that of Collingwood (135 from 195 balls with 19 fours and a six) quickly to bowl out England for 363 in 98.2 overs. Morkel finished with impressive figures of 4 for 97.

The target for the visitors was 281 and they were gifted with a solid opening stand between Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie. The openers put on 50 plus on the board to make it easier for the middle order. The twist in the tale came when Neil McKenzie lost sight to a yorker from Flintoff to be dismissed lbw. McKenzie made just 22 but that still valuable as he put on 65 for the first wicket. England having got this breakthrough started to make inroads to create panic in the dressing room. They were aided by a bad lbw decision that went in their favour and that was of Hashim Amla (lbw for 6 off Panesar). And then Kallis too lost sight off a Flintoff delivery, this one a full toss that hit him on his thigh to get him lbw. And a few moments later, Prince had to edge an away going delivery from Anderson to the slips leaving SA at 93 for 4.

South Africa now needed a partnership desperately to get back in the game. Skipper Graeme Smith held his own and finally he got someone to wither the storm in the form of AB de Villiers. Both batsmen had seen SA past the Tea session and got their team past the 150-run mark. Monty Panesar ended the partnership by inducing a false drive from the right handed AB de Villiers (27 from 57 balls with 3 fours) to have SA at 171 for 5. England were back in style but they still had the unfinished business of getting rid of Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher. And that was the difficult part for the bowlers as both batsmen have always been so cool under pressure. Through their positive batting they got SA closer and closer to the target and eventually got their team home in the 80th over. Fittingly, it was Graeme Smith scoring the winning boundary. But for his knock of an unbeaten 154 (from 246 balls with 17 fours), SA would have lost the match for sure. That was Smith’s 16th Test hundred. Boucher played his part with his 45 from 85 balls with 5 fours. The Man of the Match had to go to the South African Captain for his heroic efforts. The fourth and final Test is at The Oval and is from the 7th.

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