England remain the favourites to win the second cricket Test against South Africa at Newlands in Cape Town after having set the hosts a mammoth victory target of 438 runs.

The English declared their innings closed soon after lunch on day four on 391 for the loss of eight wickets. A determined Proteas side managed to get to stumps on 126 for two, but still trail by 312 runs.

England was already in the driving seat overnight, ending day three on 218 for the loss of four wickets, a lead of 262 runs. To the dismay of Proteas fans, it didn’t get any better for the hosts on the morning of the fourth day at Newlands despite a new ball.

The opening session belonged to England’s batsmen. All-rounder Ben Stokes, most likely given the license by his skipper Joe Root, was in a belligerent mood.

Taking the fight to a despondent South African bowling attack, Stokes clubbed his 21st test half-century from just 34 deliveries.

Opener Dom Sibley, who’s been the anchor for the visitors, also scored more freely and recorded his maiden Test century with a boundary.

The pair shared in a 92 run fifth-wicket stand before spinner Keshav Maharaj finally made a breakthrough with the scalp of Stokes for 72.

Fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje also pitched in with a wicket each. Rabada accounted for Ollie Pope and Nortje for Jos Butler but the English went into the lunch break still firmly in control on 375 for seven and a commanding lead of 421 runs.

Maharaj claimed his second wicket with his first delivery on the other side of the break, dismissing Sam Curran for 13. Root declared their innings closed a few overs later on 391 for eight, setting the Proteas a record victory target of 438 runs.

Sibley finished unbeaten on 133, his best performance in Test cricket so far. With plenty of time still left in this game and looking to make a match of it, South Africa’s openers Pieter Malan and Dean Elgar made a solid start to their second innings.

The pair shared in a 46-run opening stand safely navigating their team to tea. Malan was on 23, Elgar on 21 and the Proteas still needed a further 392 runs for victory.

Part-time spinner Joe Denly eventually made the breakthrough for the tourists in the final session, albeit a somewhat controversial one, as Elgar was given out caught behind for 34.

Malan continued to apply himself now partnering Zubayr Hamza, the opener went on to notch up his maiden Test half-century on debut. The pair put on a 52 run second-wicket partnership before James Anderson was brought back into the attack removing Hamza for 18.

Malan went to stumps unbeaten on 63 while the Proteas ended the day on 126 for two still 312 runs behind,  but still very much in the match.