England completed an emphatic victory over South Africa to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match Test series with a 211-run win at Lord's. Moeen Ali stared with 10 wickets in the match as the tourists were bowled out for just 119 in less than 37 overs on day four.
The Proteas had staged a comeback on the fourth morning as England lost their last nine wickets for just 94. Alastair Cook made 69 and Jonny Barstow added a useful 51 but for wickets four Keshav Maharaj set the away 330 to win the opening Test of the series and claim a first win at the home of cricket since 1960.
But on a pitch which was turning square and producing uneven bounce, England surged to victory either-side of tea. Ali was the chief tormentor with six wickets in the innings, ably assisted by Liam Dawson who dismissed Hashim Amla. Dean Algar's side never threatened their daunting total and the hosts claiming victory with an hour of play remaining on day four.
"Great start," said Root. "Everything I asked of the lads they did. Responded to all the challenges. It's nice to get the runs, a monkey off the back, but through the entire game we had vital partnerships. Moeen had very aggressive fields and was still able to put pressure on the batsmen. It's nice to be stood here having made the right choices. Everyone contributed at some point in the game, the whole team played a big part in the win. A lot of credit has to go to the three guys who batted last night, those runs are probably worth double. It was a very valuable 100 runs, was very tough today."
While the result is the perfect start for Root's tenure as England captain, the alarming shortcomings within South Africa's performances are concerning ahead of the second Test starting at Trent Bridge starting on Friday [14 July]. Captain Faf du Plessis does return following the birth of his first child but Kagiso Rabada is suspended after an altercation with Ben Stokes. Vernon Philander injured his hand during the game and though he did bowl in the second innings he was forced to wear strapping. Among the central areas needing improvement is in the field where a series of dropped catches, twice from Root in the first innings and then Bairstow in the second, undid their hopes.
While Root scored a memorable 190 in his first game as England captain, it is the performance of man-of-the-match Ali for which this Test will be remembered. He made 87 in the first innings before 10 wickets across both innings on a surface which assisted the finger spinner underlined the best display of his international career.
Ali said: "Was a great game for myself and very happy today. Was a great wicket, even in the first innings. Tried to make the batsmen play as much as I could. I learnt a lot [in the winter] speaking to Saqi, it made things a lot clearer for myself and I'd like to dedicate this to him. Rooty told me to attack, Alastair used to be the same. It was like a fresh start with a new captain. It's a nice time to come into bat, you can play a few shots against the second new ball. I thought Liam bowled really well, unlucky not to get more wickets but things went my way."