First blood for the hosts as a pumped-up Stuart Broad zeroed in on the outside edge and located it with a heat-seeking beauty from round the wicket.
But he was struck down by a mystery virus that reduced his effectiveness in the third Test at The Oval and Philander did not even make the team at Old Trafford because of a back problem.
James Anderson gets first wicket from James Anderson-end: It was a proud moment for England's most successful bowler to bowl from an end named after him.
Captain Joe Root added on BBC Test Match Special: "Moeen looks like he's improving all the time". I didn't really think too much.
England coach Trevor Bayliss all but confirmed that their bowling coach Ottis Gibson will take over the head coaching role of South Africa.
Ali controlled a 58-run stand with Toby Roland-Jones, scoring 45 of those 58 runs from just 40 balls. Great pitch to bowl on, especially today, landing it in a good area you get the reward. But the beauty of an effective spinner is that he can dismiss a major batsman when the ball is old, the sun is out and the fielders are tiring.
A fourth-wicket stand of 123 between Amla, who flowed into his strokes for the first time this summer, and Faf du Plessis held England up for much of the afternoon.
Ali was not done with Amla's scalp and in the very next over he had the risky Quinton de Kock and Theunis de Bruyn edging to the slips as he made full use of the rough on the Old Trafford pitch.
"I'd have taken it", Moeen said with typical understatement when asked about his 25-wicket haul.
His replacement, Tom Westley, made a half-century on debut in the third Test and averaged 30.
But Bairstow, rotating the strike well, went on the offensive, with his fine attacking innings including a superb straight six off Duanne Olivier.
With England's twin gingers, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, ahead of him, the arguments for Moeen batting so low are not without merit, it is just that on the days when he is on song it feels a little like using King Arthur's Excalibur to open a pile of old letters.
When test cricket gets NAKED!"[Beating SA for first time at home since 1998] Very proud moment, throughout we've put in the performances and that's what it takes the win series like this". "Hopefully we can salvage that tomorrow".
- Controversial assembly begins in Venezuela
- Chris Brown's comment on Rihanna's photo did not go unnoticed
- Australian PM Turnbull faces heat due to leaked Trump phone call
- Ever wondered why you shouldn't look at an eclipse?
- The Bachelorette finale: Rachel Lindsay - Peter Kraus conversation gets testy
- Next season will be toughest of my career, says Chelsea boss Conte
- Disney to pull all its movies off Netflix
- Solar eclipse glasses available at libraries on August 21
- In Kenya : Calls for peace on eve of tense election
- Dolly Parton pays heartfelt tribute to 'greatest musician' Glen Campbell