Cricket: England close in but Lancs are beaten

Ben Stokes takes the wicket of Faf du PlessiBen Stokes takes the wicket of Faf du Plessi
Ben Stokes takes the wicket of Faf du Plessi
Ben Stokes believes England are well placed to clinch victory in the third Test against South Africa at the Oval, but concedes there is still work to be done on Monday.

The hosts set their visitors a notional, world-record 492 to win in four sessions after half-centuries from Tom Westley, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow in their 313 for eight declared.

Stokes, who hit a first-innings century in the 100th Test to be staged at the Oval, then restated his huge value with the ball too by taking two wickets in as many balls as South Africa faltered to 52 for four.

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Dean Elgar, who finished the day unbeaten on 72, and Temba Bavuma then dug in during an unbroken stand of 65 on the way to 117 for four at stumps.

“Hashim Amla and Quinton De Kock are probably the two wickets we look at as being the main ones for us to try and get on a roll, so it’s nice to see the back of those two already,” Stokes said.

“They’re in form and two really good players.

“But we’ve got two fighters still at the wicket at the moment, in Elgar and Bavuma, so hopefully conditions are similar tomorrow and we can get them out early on.”

Elsewhere, Lancashire Lightning suffered a five-wicket T20 Blast defeat at Edgbaston after a sensational debut innings from Adam Hose lifted Birmingham Bears to victory.

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Lightning amassed 174 for eight thanks mainly to Jos Buttler whose unbeaten 80 (43 balls, six fours, two sixes) was the only contribution beyond 20.

Measured at first, as wickets fell around him, Buttler paced his innings perfectly, climbing into the bowling late on.

But then Hose, making his debut after moving from Somerset on a three-year deal last week, smashed a dazzling, T20-best 76 from 43 balls with seven fours and five sixes to put his side on course for victory.

And after he perished, Grant Elliott saw his side over the line with just two balls to spare with an shrewd unbeaten 45 (33 balls, five fours).

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Lancashire coach Glenn Chapple said: “Batting first we struggled to maintain a partnership so lost wickets at crucial stages and just didn’t pick up the run-rate.

“Jos played a fantastic knock to get us somewhere near a par score.

“In close games there are loads of things in a T20 game which can go either way, but I thought Hose played an exciting innings for them.”