De Villiers could be only stumbling block in England’s Test victory bid

Steven Finn admitted England are not looking too far ahead despite his three wickets putting them on course for victory in the opening Test against South Africa.

Tuesday, 29th December 2015, 4:38 pm
Jonny Bairstow: England's top scorer with 79.

Finn took the key scalps of out-of-form Proteas skipper Hashim Amla, first-innings centurion Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis in the final session of day four as the hosts closed on 136 for four - still 280 short of an unlikely win in Durban.

Yet AB De Villiers, ranked third in the Test batting rankings, lurks menacingly on 37 not out and was given a life on 33 when Jonny Bairstow missed a tough stumping chance.

Finn told Sky Sports 2: “We built pressure really nicely through that last period of the day after tea and to come out and get those four wickets before the close of play was really satisfying.

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“We have to come back and be patient tomorrow morning. We can’t come and chase it.

“Ideally we’d’ve have seen the back of (De Villiers) but I thought that collectively we bowled really well to him; he’s hit some nice shots to get some boundaries but we have created pressure there.

“We know he’s a world-class player, we know he’s one of the best in the world so he’s going to be an important wicket tomorrow for us to try and unstick their glue. But we’ll come back and work hard to do that.”

Bairstow, who earlier top-scored with 79 as England were all out for 326 in their second innings, failed to get anywhere near a Moeen Ali delivery that sharply spun between De Villiers’ bat and pad.

But Finn said: “It spun hard, he was unsighted, I think, through the bat and the pad. No one in the dressing room is blaming him at all, he works very hard on his keeping and hopefully we’ll get the next one.”

Finn’s contribution to England’s victory push is remarkable given the Middlesex paceman was initially left out of the touring party due to a bone stress injury in his left foot that he suffered in the United Arab Emirates in October.

He proved his fitness with the Lions in the UAE before taking six wickets in last week’s tour match after being called-up to the senior squad, and his wickets on Tuesday could go a long way to determining the outcome of the opener of the four-Test series.

He added of his recovery: “I rested really hard on the sofa for a few weeks and it feels really good, there’s no pain so far.”