Moeen takes historic hat-trick as Elgar resistance falls short
Moeen Ali made history by taking a hat-trick to wrap up a crushing 239-run win in style on day five of the third Test at The Oval to give England a 2-1 series lead over South Africa despite a brilliant century from Dean Elgar.
England needed six wickets on the final day to regain the advantage with one match to come at Old Trafford after setting the Proteas a world-record 492 to win the 100th Test at the famous London ground.
Toby Roland-Jones took five wickets in the first innings of his Test debut and struck twice in as many balls on Monday to remove Temba Bavuma (32) and Vernon Philander.
Moeen then came to the fore, becoming the first player to take a Test hat-trick at The Oval and sealing a resounding win early in the afternoon session, finishing with figures of 4-45 as the tourists were dismissed for 252.
The defiant Elgar made Joe Root's side wait, showing great character in his knock of 136 after taking blows to the hand and finger, but England will start the fourth and final match in Manchester on Friday only needing to avoid defeat to win the series.
Elgar was struck on the left hand on day four and was clearly still in considerable pain on Monday, but he pulled Ben Stokes for back-to-back boundaries to move into the 80s after the Proteas resumed on 117-4.
The assured Bavuma and Elgar looked untroubled until Roland-Jones (3-72) struck twice in as many balls just under an hour into the morning session.
Root has not had much joy with the decision review system since taking over as captain, but he got one right when Aleem Dar gave Bavuma not out, only for replays to show the ball hit pad before bat and would have gone onto take middle stump.
After waiting so long to break that 108-run stand, England had a sixth wicket immediately after Vernon Philander inexplicably offered no stroke to a first delivery from the debutant which struck him in front.
Roland-Jones came agonisingly close to a hat-trick of his own when Chris Morris edged his first ball just short of third slip and gully before the steely Elgar struck Moeen for a lofted drive over mid-off for a richly deserved eighth Test century.
Morris (24) hung around to offer Elgar some support, but fell from the last ball before lunch after edging Moeen to a diving Stokes at first slip.
Man-of-the-match Stokes also held on early in the afternoon session as Elgar's doughty 228-ball innings was ended four runs short of his Test-best score when the opener tried to play Moeen through the covers and the same pair combined to remove Kasigo Rabada first ball.
Moeen put the icing on the cake, getting Morne Morkel leg before after the Proteas paceman was initially given not out.