England face a severely tough task to avoid defeat in the final Test of their four-match series against South Africa. The tourists have already clinched an overall victory following Stuart Broad's heroics in Johannesburg, but will require an enormous effort or more likely a timely intervention from the elements if they are to avoid their first defeat of the tour after closing day four at Supersport Park on 52-3, trailing by 330.
After an attack inspired by impressive seamer Kagiso Rabada bowled England out for 342, the Proteas resumed play on 42-1 after losing the wicket of Dean Elgar for just five runs on Sunday (24 January). Fellow opener and debutant Stephen Cook, who scored a brilliant 115 in his first innings, then made 25 before edging a full delivery from James Anderson through to wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow.
Captain AB de Villiers secured a third consecutive duck as he was trapped lbw to become Anderson's second victim in quick succession, but predecessor Hashim Amla was on hand to provide a cool head as he scored 96 from 199 balls before being cruelly denied a second century of the match as he sought to punish a wide delivery from Broad but nicked behind.
JP Duminy had earlier gotten out in similar fashion and the hosts eventually declared on 248-5 after a 70-minute rain break with Temba Bavuma notching 78 and Quinton de Kock adding nine.
Set a daunting target of 382 runs to win, England needed to react strongly but got their second innings off to a dreadful start as Alex Hales' struggles continued when a straight ball from Rabada swerved and hit his pad. The Nottinghamshire batsman, averaging only 17 throughout the series, contributed just one run as significant doubts over his position in the team continue.
Alastair Cook notched just five before being caught and bowled courtesy of an excellent one-handed take from Morne Morkel to leave his side in a perilous position at 8-2. The top order struggles did not end there, either, as Nick Compton edged a Rabada delivery through to De Kock before inexplicably wasting a review. England will begin day five with Joe Root and James Taylor on 19 apiece as they bid to secure an unlikely draw.
Elsewhere on 25 January, Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced that they have imposed a 20-year ban on Gulam Bodi after the former Proteas bowler admitted to charges of contriving or attempting to fix matches during the 2015 Ram Slam T20 Challenge series.
"SA thoroughly considered all the relevant factors and determined that a lengthy ban was appropriate," chief executive Haroon Lorgat said of the suspension in an official CSA release.
"Our attitude to corruption will always be one of zero tolerance. There is no doubt that Mr Bodi's actions have threatened the integrity and image of the game that we love and he must be handed a strong punishment. We have had many discussions with Mr Bodi and he accepts the folly of his actions."