Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
9 Feb 2020
5:50 pm

England square ODI series despite pink Proteas’ fight

Heinz Schenk

No-one could deny South Africa's fighting spirit as they tried their best to atone for what was a mediocre performance for the majority of the game.

Andile Phehlukwayo misses a catch during the 3rd ODI match between South Africa an England at Imperial Wanderers on February 09, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

After six consecutive Pink Day victories, the Proteas’ aura of invincibility in the annual fixture has now disappeared after they narrowly lost the third and final ODI against England by two wickets at the Wanderers on Sunday.

It’s successive losses now for South Africa after last year’s batting collapse against Pakistan and, overall, the series is shared one-all.

But no-one could deny their fighting spirit as they tried their best to atone for what was a mediocre performance for the majority of the game.

On a pitch that seemed to have a decent amount of runs in it, the hosts simply didn’t muster a big enough score to truly trouble a weakened but still dynamic English batting order.

In fact, one could argue that Jonny Bairstow’s thrilling assault on the new ball was all that was needed to make victory a formality.

His 23-ball 43 meant the visitors reached 61 without loss after 6.1 overs.

At the same stage, the Proteas were 16/0.

Such was the momentum created by the flame-haired opener that England didn’t really need to go beserk in their pursuit of 257.

There was a bit of a wobble after Beuran Hendricks (3/59) struck twice to leave them 86/3, before Joe Root (49) and the revitalised Joe Denly consolidated at a healthy tempo.

The latter has had an excellent series as Ben Stokes’ replacement, striking six fours and three sixes in a fine 66 off 79 deliveries.

He made 87 in the series opener at Newlands as well.

Rookie Tom Banton also did his part with a sprightly run-a-ball 32.

In a rush to finish things off, England lost two wickets in three balls, before a bit of panic seemed to set in when a flustered Tom Curran and a stroke-less Adil Rashid gave Lungi Ngidi (3/63) two wickets, who came back brilliantly to take 3/11 in a four-over spell after being hammered for 52 in five.

Yet their scoring rate was simply too rapid throughout, leaving South Africa needing to take wickets to win – they wouldn’t have been able to contain.

Earlier, the Proteas were indebted to Quinton de Kock and David Miller’s twin 69s for keeping them afloat.

But familiar failings against spin once again hurt them.

Leg-spinner Adil Rashid was particularly menacing, breaking a promising 66-run stand between De Kock and Temba Bavuma (29), before returning to take Andile Phehlukwayo’s wicket to finish with 3/51.

South Africa were stuttering at 188/6, before Miller’s late, 53-ball show, which included four sixes, gave them a fighting chance.

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