England made a mockery of South Africa’s status as the number one-ranked Test nation, beating them by 241 runs in Durban and with just two days before the second instalment of the four-match series, the tourists will fancy their chances of going 2-0 up in Cape Town.
The emphatic victory was England’s third largest in terms of runs against South Africa and it strengthened the growing belief that this vintage Proteas side are in the midst of a rapid decline.
As good an all-round performance as it was from Alastair Cook’s men, especially when managing to dig out 303 first-innings runs after being reduced to 49/3 in the opening session of the game, their opponents’ batting, or lack of it, reflected a side devoid of confidence at the crease.
Only South African opener Dean Elgar, who carried his bat for 118 hard-fought runs as the rest of the order crumbled around him, could hold his head high as the home side crawled to 214 all-out in response.
After England had batted their way into a winning position with a fourth and fifth-day track to take advantage of, a swift ending to proceedings always looked on the cards , and so it proved.
The damning stats mounted up for Hashim Amla’s hosts as they were knocked over for just 174 in their second innings, but perhaps none are starker than South Africa ending the year without a century partnership for the first time since 1963.
Although Cape Town is a traditional Proteas stronghold, having now gone seven Tests in 2015 without a single victory, Ladbrokes customers will be queuing up to take the bookmaker up on the 6/4 about England increasing their numerical advantage.
With Amla’s side in a state of disarray and facing such a swift turnaround before the second Test, England will feel it is time to seize the moment and ensure they take an unassailable lead in the series.
James’ Anderson’s expected return to an attack which looked extremely well-oiled in Durban even without their England’s leading Test wicket taker, will only increase the tourists’ chances of posting back-to-back wins.
England are now the 1/2 favourites to press on and claim the series win.
It’s important that Cook’s men do not get carried away, but judging by the opening Test a 3-1 series scoreline has plenty of appeal priced at 9/2 and the whitewash has to be considered more than just fanciful at 9/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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