Finn leads England closer to victory over South Africa

Steven Finn removed Faf du Plessis in Tuesday’s final over, leaving England needing six wickets on the last day to beat South Africa in the First Test at Durban.

All three outcomes are still possible going into Wednesday’s final day, with South Africa needing 280 runs to win and England having 90 overs to get the final wickets. However, with AB de Villiers the only top-five batsman remaining for the South Africans, it seems likely that they will try to bat out the day and escape with a draw.

England started the day at 172/3 in the second innings, but Kyle Abbott removed Joe Root early in the day for 73, and Dane Piedt split the last six wickets with Stiaan van Zyl. Piedt picked up the first five-wicket haul of career as England were all out for 326, setting South Africa a target of 416.

Dean Elgar and van Zyl put on 53 for the first wicket, making a run chase seem possible, but Ben Stokes bowled van Zyl for 33 before Finn removed Hashim Amla (12), Elgar (40) and du Plessis (9). De Villiers is unbeaten on 37, and night-watchman Dale Steyn survived the last three balls without scoring.

More importantly, Steyn was unable to bowl Tuesday after Monday’s shoulder injury, and it isn’t clear if he will be able to take part in the Second Test beginning on Jan. 2.

In Melbourne, Australia was able to wrap up the Second Test against the West Indies within four days to win the series 2-0. Steven Smith declared at the start of play, setting the visitors 460 runs to win and giving his bowlers six full sessions to get the 10 wickets needed for victory.

It wasn’t as easy as Smith had hoped, as Denesh Ramdin and Jason Holder put on 100 runs for the sixth wicket to bring the West Indies to 250. Mitchell Marsh, though, had Ramdin caught behind on 59 to break the partnership and Nathan Lyon bowled Carlos Brathwaite in the next over. Marsh removed the last resistance when he had Holder caught for 68, and finished the match by retiring Jerome Taylor for a duck.

Australia won by 177 runs, and it says a lot about the current state of West Indian cricket that the visitors can take pride in getting that close.

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