Amla, De Villiers help SA draw series
Half centuries by Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers ensured South Africa shared the NatWest One-Day International series against England with a seven-wicket win at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Wednesday.
Both men ended unbeaten after putting together a record 172-run stand, with opener Amla finishing not out on 97 from 107 balls.
Captain De Villiers was undefeated on 75 from 79 deliveries with the pair helping overhaul the home side’s 182 all out with 15.3 overs still to go in a chase made even more admirable considering the tourists were on 14 for three at one stage.
But they hit back superbly and in the process squared the series at 2-2.
The Proteas’ chase was earlier set up by some fine bowling from Robin Peterson and their two pacemen, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
Slow left-armer Peterson, handed the new ball at the start, claimed 3-37 and received superb support via Steyn (2-24) and Morkel (2-41) as the English were bundled out in 45.2 overs with their innings built largely around skipper Alastair Cook’s 51 off 72 deliveries.
Cook won the toss and opted to bat first, but found his side in a bit of trouble on 24-2.
Ian Bell (10) and Ravi Bopara (0) fell cheaply, before Jonny Bairstow (29) helped mount a slight recovery when he shared in a 50 stand from 80 deliveries with his captain.
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But they quickly slipped from 79-2 to 99-5 with Eoin Morgan (0) and Cook, who reached a 13th career 50 and first of the series, both falling after the dismissal of Bairstow.
Craig Kieswetter struck an attacking 53-ball 33 and a career-best 33 not out from Chris Woakes helped England fight, but they were rolled over with almost five overs to go.
The Proteas began the chase woefully, losing Graeme Smith for one when he edged Jade Dernbach to James Tredwell at second slip.
James Anderson, England’s best bowler with 2-41, accounted for makeshift number three Faf du Plessis (3) and Dean Elgar (1), both caught behind by Kieswetter to cause some worry in the dressing room.
But Amla, who hit a career-best 150 in the second match of the series, and De Villiers fought back.
They raced to a 50 partnership in 62 balls, before bringing up the 100 in the 22nd over.
Both went to 50s in the 23rd over – Amla’s 19th from 63 balls and De Villiers getting to a 29th and first of the tour in 54 deliveries.
They continued to attack England, and with the home side content with the fact that they could not lose the series nor concede the number one ODI ranking, it was only a matter of time as the South Africans clinched a clinical win.
The Amla/De Villiers partnership finished as the highest ever fourth wicket stand for the Proteas against their English rivals, surpassing the 145 between Jacques Kallis and Jacques Rudolph in 2003.
ENGLAND - Alastair Cook (capt), Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Samit Patel, Chris Woakes, James Tredwell, James Anderson, Jade Dernbach
SOUTH AFRICA - Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Dean Elgar, AB de Villiers (capt & wk), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Justin Ontong, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel