Middlesex man took two wickets in two balls before lunch as Moeen tore through the Proteas
MOEEN ALI clinched a crushing victory for England with the first hat-trick ever taken in a Test match at the Oval.
Moeen dismissed Dean Elgar, Kagiso Rabada and last man Morne Morkel with successive deliveries as England swept to a win by 239 runs.
They now lead the series 2-1 with one match to play.
It was the most dramatic conclusion imaginable to the 100th Test match on the historic old ground in South London – the first time the famous arena has witnessed a Test hat-trick AND the first-hat-trick to win a Test match since 1902.
Moeen had a spell either side of lunch on the final day of 6.1-3-9-4.
Ben Stokes and Toby Roland-Jones had also been on hat-tricks earlier in South Africa’s second innings but they had to be content with two wickets in two balls.
Morkel was initially given not out by umpire Joel Wilson but England referred the decision and, when replays on the giant screen predicted the ball clattering into the stumps, there was huge rejoicing and Moeen was engulfed.
England’s win continued the roller-coaster nature of this series.
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England won the First Test easily and then the Proteas responded with a 340-run victory at Trent Bridge.
Now England have extended the topsy-turvy, unpredictable nature of the conflict with another emphatic win.
New captain Joe Root must find a way of making England more consistent – starting in the Fourth Test at Old Trafford on Friday.
Not even a brave and battling century by Elgar could prevent South Africa slumping to their defeat.
Elgar denied England for 75 overs during which he was struck on virtually every part of his anatomy – with his fingers taking a particular pounding.
The nuggety left-hander might have been caught down the legside on 73 when he was close to tickling a ball from Stuart Broad.
England did not ask for a review which showed a spike as the ball passed the bat but apparent daylight between wood and willow.
The third umpire must have been relieved he did not have to adjudicate on that one.
Elgar and Temba Bavuma put on 108 for the fifth wicket with only a few alarms.
But the ball continued to swing and seam around and the diminutive Bavuma was eventually out lbw.
After a string of unsuccessful reviews in the series, Root got this one right with the ball striking the bat fractionally before Bavuma’s bat – and predicted to go on to hit the stumps.
Vernon Philander was leg before to Roland-Jones’ next delivery without offering a shot.
It was the third time in the match a Proteas batsman had been lbw shouldering arms after skipper Faf du Plessis committed a fatal misjudgement in both innings.
Chris Morris edged Moeen to slip in the final over before lunch and, although Elgar and Keshav Maharaj took 34 from three successive overs by Roland-Jones, it was only a brief display of defiance.
Elgar finally departed when his attempted drive also ended up in Ben Stokes’ hands at first slip.
Kagiso Rabada went in similar fashion and the game was done when Morkel was dismissed on review.
It was a thrilling conclusion to a century of Tests at the Oval and Moeen now has 18 wickets in the series.
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