England win Pink Day ODI by three wickets to square series against SA

Andile Phehlukwayo misses a catch during the match between SA and England at the Wanderers
Andile Phehlukwayo misses a catch during the match between SA and England at the Wanderers
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

England doubled SA’s number of defeats in Pink Day ODIs when they won by three wickets here on Sunday.

Set a target of 257, England got with 40 balls to spare.

England lost wickets in the process but they could afford a cavalier approach from the start of their innings as the South Africans never really got going until David Miller delivered some lusty blows as their innings climaxed.

England’s win means the series is squared at one all. SA won at Newlands, the ODI at Kingsmead was washed out.

Although SA under-performed with the bat, they could have done with more penetration with the ball up front.

Kagiso Rababa’s absence was lamented for the fourth Test here last month and on Sunday his wicket-taking exploits were again conspicuous by its absence.

Of course he is being rested for this series and it was up front in defence of 256 for seven that the home side could have done with his extra pace and guile.

In Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow England have openers with dash and dare and it was the latter who took a shining to the South African attack. He launched a savage assault on Lungi Ngidi who seemed to have difficulty in directing the ball down the designed area widely known as the wicket.

Four wides, three by Ngidi, were delivered by the time the second over was completed.

Unlike South Africa earlier in the day England’s audacious approach yielded 43 runs in the first five overs.

Bairstow richly contributed to the inglorious start of SA’s defence and for a man who searched for form earlier in the tour he showed beguiling touch. His first delivery was hit square on the offside for four, soon after he flicked Ngidi for a glorious six, then drove him through the covers before pulling the burly quick flat for six.

By the time Ngidi was withdrawn from the attack he had conceded 29 off his two overs. He came back later in the innings and bagged three wickets but SA had not given themselves enough runs to defend.

Bairstow, one sensed, had license to thrill and he went about his business as if he had been double booked for an episode of Modern Family later in the afternoon.

SA applied the brakes to the England innings when they got rid of Roy but the pair of Joe’s, Root (49) and Denly (66) provided the middle order substance required to break the camel’s back. 

Earlier SA were pressed into a sedate start after England won the toss under leaden skies. England quicks Tom Curran and Saqib Mahmood settled into a steady line and length but the ball did nip about a little early on. Openers Quinton de Kock and Reeza Hendricks judiciously tiptoed their way around the initial overs.

The conditions dictated they make a sedate start but De Kock pressed on. He gradually upped the tempo and recorded his 25th ODI half century off 62 balls. The shot he got out to for 69 however was a betrayal of the restraint he showed earlier in his innings.  

With De Kock providing the glue up front it was up to David Miller to keep the tail not just in tact, but wagging. Gradually his innings grew in strength and had reached a thunderous crescendo by the time the innings came to a close.

Thankfully the nine so called ‘Imperial skydivers’ who floated in at the lunch break didn’t arrive here early.

Miller was depositing the ball into and over the bleachers on the east side of the ground from where the descending men were making their grand entrance.

Although the ‘Imperial skydivers’ sounds like they flew a long south, they were warmly received upon touchdown, whether on buttocks or foot.

There was no soft landing for the South Africans in the field however and they will now have to look for joy in the T20 series starting on Wednesday.

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