Proteas slump to England in PE

BY MARC JACOBSON - FEBRUARY 7, 2016

The Proteas failed to hold England off as the visitors won by 5 wickets in St. Georges Park, Port Elizabeth, on Saturday.

Port Elizabeth has always generally proved to be the Proteas’ bogey cricket arena previously and Saturday was not any different. South Africa lost pivotal wickets at crunch time of their batting innings, which prevented them from gaining any real frivolous momentum to close the game out.

South Africa’s kingpin, AB de Villiers, was taken for an excellent catch near the boundary by England’s Christopher Jordan in the 41st over. De Villiers just began firing up on all cylinders as he was already on a momentous 73 when he was caught.

JP Duminy, who had already developed a stern 107-run partnership with de Villiers and having scored most of his 47 runs alongside the captain, was then dismissed just three balls later through an LBW by England pace bowler, Reece Topley.

With nine overs remaining, South Africa had two new batsmen at the crease needing to fluctuate some sort of threat as the innings steadily came to a close. The threat was then further hindered as the Proteas’ next reliant batsman, Rilee Rossouw, edged a swing delivery by Topley and was taken by England wicket keeper, Jos Buttler.

Just three and a half overs after that, Kagiso Rabada was also dismissed by Topley with a catch from English captain, Eoin Morgan. South Africa’s only remaining threatening batsman, Farhaan Behardien, had too little to work with as the Proteas’ innings grew to a close and had scored 23 not out from a mere 26 balls.

South Africa were progressively knocked to their knees toward the end, and as a result failed to polish off their innings as they set up a mediocre 265-7 after 50 overs.

England got their innings to a threatening start as after the first four overs they were 23-1 as opposed to the Proteas being 4-1 at the same stage in their innings. Thereafter, South Africa managed to contain the intensity on the English attack as their run rate plunged below in tandem to that of the hosts.

It began looking promising for South Africa when England’s top batsman, Joe Root, edged the ball onto his wickets in the 26th over by a delivery from Kyle Abbot. Eight overs later, Morgan was then dismissed by Morne Morkel through a catch from de Villiers. English danger man, Ben Stokes, was then bowled out for a duck by Morkel two overs later.

Despite England’s two biggest threats falling out, it was their opener, Alex Hales, who proved to pose the greatest threat against South Africa on the day. Hales progressed to a heart-breaking 99 before being caught by Proteas wicket keeper, Quintin de Kock, with a blinder delivery from Abbott in the 42nd over. This was England’s last fall of wicket.

Buttler and Moeen Ali then withheld a desperate South African attack as they advantaged past the required run rate when the match began concluding. With 29 required off 30 balls for victory, England were favourites and with no patience in reaching for gold, Buttler smashed three sixes in a row to conclude the 46th over.

England now required 8 to win and with no pressure weighing down on his shoulders, Ali split the Proteas’ meek bowling attack as he hit two consecutive fours off the first two balls of the 47th over to give them a convincing victory.

South Africa’s top batsmen on the day were de Villiers (73), Duminy (47) and Faf du Plessis (46). Abbott had the best bowling figures for the Proteas of 3-58 with Morkel following (2-31). Morkel and Rabada, however, showed the best economy rate with 3.72 and 3.88 respectively.

England’s highest run-scorers were Hales (99), Buttler (48) and Root (38) while their top bowler was Topley with 4-50 bowling figures. Stokes showed 2-54 bowling figures, while their least expensive bowlers being Ali and Adil Rashid with 4.1 and 4.3 economy rates respectively.

The English proved in this game to be more consistent in their batting line-up and resultantly had batsman to back each other up. Root and Stokes usually pose the greatest threat on attack for England but as soon as they slumped; they were backed up by the likes of Hales and Buttler to guide their side to victory. England also managed to back themselves significantly in the last 10 overs which resulted in them winning the game comfortably with 22 balls to spare.

South Africa showed signs of the stereotypical ‘choking’ as soon as their big names started to tumble and as a result they stumbled over each other. The players were unable to complement each other in a cohesive attack when the going got tough and had once again placed too much reliance on a certain few.

With regards to bowling, England were not necessarily better but had done enough for their batting attack to secure victory. In cricket, consistent batting momentum is often the difference between winning and losing and this game proved it.

England now lead the series 2-0. The two sides will meet again in SuperSport Park in Centurion on Tuesday and South Africa will have to win the remaining three ODI’s in order to win the series.  

Image: England batsman, Alex Hales, showing his integrity on batting attack. Photo credit: Gianluigi Guercia