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England make short work of South Africa after extraordinary Test

E

ngland wasted little time completing a 2-1 series win over South Africa and their sixth Test victory of the summer at the Kia Oval on Monday morning.

England have undergone a remarkable transformation this summer. Having won just one Test in 17 matches going into the new season, they have won six Tests out of seven – their best return since 2004 – under the leadership of captain Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum.

At the summer’s end, this was an extraordinary Test match that, when you consider days lost due to rain and the death of a monarch, only just crept into a third day. The first two Tests of a strange series required just three days for a result, and the same was true here.

After bad light stopped play after 6.30pm on Sunday, England returned this morning needing just 33 to win. They did so by nine wickets in just 25 minutes on the final morning, with Alex Lees the only wicket lost.

Lees, who was dropped off the first ball of the innings last night, had been leading a charmed life. In the first over of the day, on 34, he was dropped badly by keeper Kyle Verreyne, and in the second, on 35, an edge flashed through the hands of third slip. His luck ran out in the third over of the day, though, when Kagiso Rabada’s review saw him trapped lbw from round the wicket, an angle that troubled him.

By then, though, the openers had shared 108, and the end was in sight. Ollie Pope joined Zak Crawley at the crease and fizzed with intent. With just five required for victory, Pope even attempted a Joe Root-style reverse-scooped six.

It was Crawley who crunched the winning runs with a back-foot punch through the offside, finishing 69 not out.

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