Opener Dominic Sibley struck a career-best unbeaten 85 as England seized control of the second Test against South Africa at the close of the third day at Newlands on Sunday, grinding down their hosts ahead of a fourth innings victory charge.
The tourists reached 218 for four at stumps, a lead of 264 that already looks substantial on a wearing wicket and with two full days remaining, providing an excellent chance to level the four-match series.
Sibley put on 116 for the third wicket with captain Joe Root (61), before the latter steered Dwaine Pretorius to Faf du Plessis at slip late on.
Nightwatchman Dominic Bess gloved a leg-side delivery from Anrich Nortje (2-36) to end the day.
Sibley will seek to take the game further away from South Africa with Ben Stokes on day four with England’s travelling fans in full voice in Cape Town.
Sibley’s previous best in Tests was 29 and he showed impressive patience and concentration to see off the new ball and then accumulate his runs by waiting for the right opportunities to score.
He took 140 balls to reach his 50 and batted for almost the full day, which allowed Root to score more freely at the other end.
South Africa’s other two wickets in England’s second innings were that of Zak Crawley (25), who edged Kagiso Rabada to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, and Joe Denly (31), caught at long leg attempting a hook off Nortje.
It was, at times, a war of attrition that the visiting side won with risk-free, smart cricket.
South Africa’s bowling attack were unable to find the movement and pace off the wicket that England enjoyed as they bowled them out for 223 early on the third day.