England wrapped up victory by an innings and 53 runs on the fifth morning of the third Test against South Africa, moving 2-1 ahead with one to play in the series.
But they had a stubborn and entertaining last-wicket stand to deal with on their way.
The tourists needed four wickets at the start of play and threatened to race over the line in style as Stuart Broad, Mark Wood and Dom Bess left the Proteas on the brink at 138 for nine.
England then found themselves subject to an astonishing display of tailend hitting as Keshav Maharaj (71) and Dane Paterson (39*) swung their way to a 99-run partnership.
With the ball disappearing to all parts of the ground it required a run out to finish the job, Curran throwing down the stumps as Maharaj sprinted in vain as he tried to bring up the century stand.
The result marks a notable achievement for Joe Root and his side, the first time England have enforced a follow-on overseas since 2013 and the first time they have done so in a winning cause since 1992 in Christchurch, but the captain took the brunt of the late fireworks himself.
Bowling on longer than he perhaps should have as he looked to convert his career-best overnight figures into a maiden five-wicket haul, the skipper sent down 11 wicketless overs for 56, South Africa scored 28 off the last of them - 24 from Maharaj's bat and four byes - to equal the Test record for most runs in an over.
It was ultimately nothing more than a curio as England completed a very impressive victory in a match they have commanded since winning the toss and batting.
Scyld Berry's player ratings are here
How did Scyld rate the performance of England's newbies, and one senior player who needs to pull his socks up?
More from Joe Root
"It's a great template for how we want to play our cricket moving forward, big first-innings score and drive the game from there," he said at the post-match presentation.
"I think Ollie batted beautifully with (Ben) Stokesy - a brilliant partnership that put us in a commanding position.
"Then the way Bessy bowled was fantastic in that first innings. From that point on we always felt we were in control of things.
"Throughout this series we've had four guys under 25 making five-fors or hundreds, which is a great place to be.
"That's something that we want to keep continuing to provide - an environment where that becomes possible and keep giving those guys confidence.
"It feels like my team, it has done for a while. I feel the guys are listening to my message."
Are you pleased with England?
When England lost the first test, Root said it might take 8 years to fix. Since then we've won two in a row, the latest by an innings and 53 runs. Yet all I see is moaning about aspects of the performance. I swear some people are only interested in sport as an excuse to whinge.— Darren Richman (@darrenrichman) January 20, 2020
Ollie Pope - man of the match
It's an amazing feeling, but it wouldn't have counted for much if we didn't win the game.
To bat with Stokesy is a privilege, to watch how he builds an innings, he just keeps better and better.
Saw some pictures of my dad - think he had a good day watching in the sports bar! Looked a bit worse for wear!
Good feeling to see Sammy hit the stumps at the end.
this is a great template for us: dominate with a big first innings score. We figured out a method at Cape Town, carried momentum into here. Four guys under 25 make 100s or taking five.
That is arguably the most impressive win of the Joe Root era. They've twice won by bigger margins but never away from home. The manner of the win too—seeing off the new ball, the middle order cashing in & going big & then the spinners coming to the fore—was really good. #SAvENG— Freddie Wilde (@fwildecricket) January 20, 2020
Faf du Plessis
We knew the toss was going to play a role, but we did a job with the ball and kept a lid on their batting line up. Stokes once again a thorn, if you are not getting him out he is going to move that run rate forward. We didn't compete in the first innings, Bess bowled well but we could have played him better.
I have heard the rumours about my retirement, but I am clear that the T20 World Cup is the focus. We need to keep driving forward and apply ourselves.
Big frustration to lose Rabada, not the first time.
England win by an innings and 53 runs
Some fun and games from the last pair but England have totally dominated every passage of play in this Test. Really encouraging for England that here, and in Cape Town, they have found ways to take 20 wickets on pitches that have not offered a great deal.
Please feel free to comment below the line if you have views on the Test or the England team - I'll be around for 20 minutes or so to discuss if you want!
WICKET! Maharaj run out 71
Maharaj hit it to mid on and ran, had he gone faster - and indeed run in a straight line - he might have got there. But Curran swoops on the ball and scores with the direct hit. FOW 237/10
Maharaj finishes on 71, one short of his highest Test score, and this tenth wicket partnership is finally curtailed on 99. Fun while it lasted.
OVER 88: SA 237/9 (Maharaj 71* Paterson 39*)
Curran tries around the wicket to Paterson. He's tried to hit him through the covers for four, but a thick edge wide of the slips will do for four runs nevertheless. Now a bit of class from the number 11 as he dabs to third man for another four. Ha! Backs away now, big heave, Jos thinks he has edged it behind but nobody really supports him and, with no reviews remaining, that's the end of the matter. Four more later in the over, again taking his chances over the point/gully area, and why the hell not? This stand is worth 99!
OVER 87: SA 225/9 (Maharaj 71* Paterson 27*)
Maharaj with an attractive shot through point for four, he now needs just two to beat his personal Test best. Thoughts must presumably have turned to a ton!
OVER 86: SA 220/9 (Maharaj 67* Paterson 26*)
Maharaj, who has a Test best of 72, is going to have a go at seeing if he can beat it. He slaps down the ground, doesn't get hold of it, and is nearly caught. Just out of the mid off's diving reach. Now a hard, flat clean strike to midwicket for six! Followed up by a neat drive down the ground for four. Just about digs out the yorker. Panels the next one to leg for four! Curran goes into one-day mode with the slower ball bouncer. Swing and a miss. 67 now for Keshav.
I am sure it is academic but South Africa need 70 to make England bat again.
OVER 85: SA 204/9 (Maharaj 51* Paterson 26*)
Mark Wood again. He beats Paterson multiple times, once for pace, once outside off with a good pill and once with, well, just with the fact that Paterson isn't all that good at batting. Paterson backing away and trying to connect. Yorker should do it?
OVER 84: SA 204/9 (Maharaj 51* Paterson 26*)
Root finally gives it up, and tosses the ball to Sam Curran. Paterson smears for four. And then there's nearly a run out!
This last South African pair doing their bit for the entertainment quotient, and keeping the concession stalls open for a few more sales.
Maharaj carting around Joe Root bowling with a new ball is the greatest argument for five day tests.— Jon Hotten (@theoldbatsman) January 20, 2020
OVER 83: SA 199/9 (Maharaj 51* Paterson 21*)
Paterson cuts Bess for three. Now Maharaj works the ball for four and brings up an entertaining Test match fifty, his second.
OVER 82: SA 190/9 (Maharaj 46* Paterson 17*)
Maharaj! Carnage! Carn-araj! There are 28 runs off the over. Oh my days. Full toss guided to leg for four, now a wide one outside leg and he gets enough on it to tickle it past the keeper for four. Same again next ball! Now he has battered the next two for six over midwicket, and when Root beats him neck and crop with the last ball of the over, he also beats Jos Buttler, adding four byes to the fun.
Our TMS Test scorer @AWSStats not happy with the state of play.— Adam Mountford (@tmsproducer) January 20, 2020
But he’s delighted to have seen the World record equalled for the most runs in a Test over.
28 has been done 3 times now & Andrew watched them all.
James Anderson, Robin Peterson & now Joe Root. #bbccricketpic.twitter.com/cU8zz4BYpO
The equal most expensive over in the history of Tests!
OVER 81: SA 162/9 (Maharaj 22* Paterson 17*)
Bess takes the new ball. Paterson spanks Bess through the covers for four, edges Bess for two. Think I might get a quick on with the new ball to be honest?
OVER 80: SA 156/9 (Maharaj 22* Paterson 11*)
Root. Paterson with the heave-ho. A single. Four byes now as a turner beats Jos. The new ball is due.
OVER 79: SA 149/9 (Maharaj 21* Paterson 9*)
Bess has men around the bat, but no takers in this over. Paterson muscles the ball through point for three.
OVER 78: SA 145/9 (Maharaj 20* Paterson 6*)
Root continues with himself. Maharaj dutifully gets a single. Root sets an in-out field, four around the bat and then men on the fence at long on, cow corner, and so on. England consider that Paterson has got two gears: block or slog. They've banked without this elegant drive through the covers then! And now he clobbers one down the ground to boot!
OVER 77: SA 138/9 (Maharaj 19* Paterson 0*)
Dane Paterson, looking limited indeed with the willow as he just about keeps two balls out.
WICKET! Nortje b Bess 5
Joe Root really is having a dream Test! Another bowling change does the trick, this time it's fourth ball of the new over, when Nortje plays back to a fuller one that hurries on. Wrong decision from Anrich, he's bowled middle and off as he tries to flick across the line and that's the end of that. FOW 138/9
Joe Root is about to make a bowling change
and it looks like it will be Dom Bess.
OVER 76: SA 138/8 (Maharaj 19* Nortje 5*)
Maharaj and Root play out a draw in this one.
OVER 75: SA 137/8 (Maharaj 19* Nortje 4*)
Ball of the morning from Mark Wood, he puts everything into it and it is a horrible bouncer, straight and quick and rearing alarmingly from barely short of a length. Maharaj does extremely well to keep his gloves, and face, out of the way of it.
OVER 74: SA 133/8 (Maharaj 15* Nortje 4*)
Root is into the 25th over of his spell (!!!) Nortje tucks the ball fine for four off his pads. Nicely played.
OVER 73: SA 128/8 (Maharaj 15* Nortje 0*)
Nortje, a game competitor who will not give his wicket away on the evidence so far at least, plays out a maiden.
OVER 72: SA 128/8 (Maharaj 15* Nortje 0*)
Root with a maiden to Maharaj.
The cloud has burned/drifted away now and the conditions are pleasant indeed.
OVER 71: SA 128/8 (Maharaj 15* Nortje 0*)
Talking of the batting card, I reckon Nortje should be coming in ahead of Rabada at least. Anyway. Here is the man with the mobile phone's name, Anrich Nortje. He gamely sees out the rest of the over from Wood, who is bowling mid 80s.
WICKET! Rabada c Broad b Wood 16
Change of bowling. First ball of the new spell, Wood with the cross-seamer: it doesn't come onto the bat, or off the pitch, as quickly as Kagiso is expecting, he's early on the shot and has chipped it tamely into the hands of Broad at mid on. Easiest catch ever.
Hard to blame the quickie Rabada for the team's batting plight (to say the least) but he could perhaps add a bit of shot selection / game management to his talented strokeplay. Particularly if he is going to come in at nine. FOW 128/8
OVER 70: SA 128/7 (Maharaj 15* Rabada 16*)
Root gives the ball a bit of air and Maharaj flogs that through the offside for four. Now he backs away and gives himself room to force it through the offside, four more for that.
OVER 69: SA 120/7 (Maharaj 7* Rabada 16*)
Rabada has got hold of that one! A lofted drive down the ground charges four runs up against Broad.
OVER 68: SA 115/7 (Maharaj 6* Rabada 12*)
Root to Rabada. A ball rags past the outside edge. Hits Jos on the gloves and past Stokes, the slip. Don't think he hit that, just large turn.
A third maiden in a row.
OVER 67: SA 115/7 (Maharaj 6* Rabada 12*)
Same again from Broad, and Maharaj, as they duke out a maiden of deliveries on or outside off-stump. Well batted lad.
OVER 66: SA 115/7 (Maharaj 6* Rabada 12*)
Glorious off drive for six from Rabada, who holds the pose as he savours the moment. He got all of that one! Lovely stroke. Wonder whether Root the bowler will be emboldened or chastened by that? Root the captain should keep Root the bowler on, I would say, because of it. Encourage Kagiso to try again.
OVER 65: SA 109/7 (Maharaj 6* Rabada 6*)
Broad with a patient over to Maharaj, outside off stump, probing and waiting for Maharaj to make a mistake. The SA spinner, to be fair, plays this watchfully and well.
OVER 64: SA 109/7 (Maharaj 6* Rabada 6*)
Broad wasn't kidding - here is Root to bowl! Root's decision nearly pays off right away as Rabada edges the ball and Sibley, so close at second slip that he is in a helmet, cannot cling on. Chance!
OVER 63: SA 106/7 (Maharaj 5* Rabada 4*)
Kagiso Rabada comes in. With an edge through the slips - surely Broad could afford another man in there? - he is off the mark and there are mere 184 required for South Africa to make England bat again.
WICKET! Philander c Pope b Broad 13
Dream start. Third ball of the day. Decent full delivery, perhaps climbs a bit more than Vern was expecting as he plods doggedly forward. There's an inside edge, onto the pad, and it pops up friendly like for Ollie Pope at short midwicket. FOW 102/7
Ollie Pope has six catches in the match to go with an unbeaten century. Not a bad weekend's work!
South Africa resume on 102/6 following on
off 62 overs. Philander is 13* and Maharaj 5*.
The players are out on the pitch, judging by the way Broad's shirt is ruffling, there is a breeze. He has the ball and will bowl to Big Vernon Philander. Just one slip, a catcher at shortish extra and a catcher at midwicket.
Mark Boucher speaking last night
"Every side has its breaking point and I thought we broke a bit too soon today."
Thoughtful interview given by Stuart Broad about discipline required today. "I'm sure Rooty will start at one end in his quest for five!" he jokes. Broad says he is excited by all the young talent on display for England, and that he is well aware he has to keep his own standards very high to keep them from taking their place.
"High thin cloud"
reports the mighty Scyld Berry.
It's not exactly shorts and sunnies weather in Port Elizabeth, the sky is fully overcast, a dull mid grey. On telly at least, the outfield looks bright green and verdant. Play is to start at 8am and there are showers forecast throughout the day. You would imagine that it will be only a matter of time for Root and his boys once they do get on the park.
Day five preview
Captain Joe Root led from the front as ruthless England took 10 wickets on Sunday to move to the brink of victory in the third test with South Africa reeling on 102-6 in their second innings.
Root claimed test-best figures of 4-31 and was ably assisted by Stuart Broad and Mark Wood as South Africa ended the fourth day still 188 runs adrift.
England need four more wickets to win their 500th overseas test and take a 2-1 lead in the four-match series, while the beleaguered home team will need to bat out the entire day, a task that looks near impossible given they have run out of recognised batsmen.
Vernon Philander (13) and Keshav Maharaj (5) resume on Monday.
England started the day with immediate success and kept up the stranglehold despite a lengthy delay for rain, emphasising the dominance they have enjoyed since day one.
"Our attitude has been good today, and we got our rewards," Wood said.
South Africa were in deep trouble when they resumed on 208-6 in their first innings, still 291 behind England’s mammoth 499 for nine declared.
Any hopes of a defiant stand crumbled immediately as England, inspired by Broad, took four wickets for the addition of one run to end the innings inside the opening half hour.
South Africa were made to follow-on and were 15-0 when the rain came but once the skies cleared, Wood quickly removed opener Dean Elgar (15) and the struggling Zubayr Hamza for two.
Root came on for a long spell during which he trapped Pieter Malan lbw for 12 and Rassie van der Dussen, who survived several scares, for 10, with Ollie Pope at short leg taking a superb one-handed catch.
The contest was effectively over when Quinton de Kock went cheaply, misjudging his stroke and being acrobatically caught by Wood as Root snagged his third wicket, followed by the all-important scalp of under-pressure skipper Faf du Plessis, who edged one onto his pad and into Pope’s safe hands for 36.
Root, a part-time off-spinner spinner, had not taken more than two wickets in a test innings but the way he ran through the top order should lead to significant South African soul-searching.
"It was a miserable day for us. Nothing we tried went our way," bemoaned South Africa coach Mark Boucher.
The hosts won the first test in Pretoria by 107 runs but were outplayed by England in the second in Cape Town.
The last test starts in Johannesburg on Friday.