Cricket : Proteas give themselves a lifeline
Two gutsy, yet contrasting centuries from South African openers Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock led the Proteas to an easy 7 wicket victory at Supersport Park in Centurion to cut down England’s lead to 2-1 in the One Day International series between the sides.
Needing nothing short of victory to keep the series alive after losing the first two ODIs ,the Proteas openers put to the sword the English attack which had no remedy whatsoever to the 239 runs in 36.5 overs the pair piled on for the first wicket on a pitch that was expected to deteriorate in the day-night encounter.
The day begun with Eoin Morgan, England’s ODI captain, winning the toss and electing to bat first. As in the first two games of the series ,the tourists got off to a flying start. The openers quickly got off to 36 within the first 6 overs before Morne Morkel’s long accurate throw from the ropes found wicket keeper de Kock who dislodged the stumps without much conviction. The subsequent television replays had Roy walking back to the pavilion, much to his amusement.
Thereafter, England batsmen piled on the runs carefully with Joe Root encoring the innings with a polished ton of his own that included 10 fours and 5 maximums. He was ably supported by Alex Hales (65), who shared a 125 run 2nd wicket partnership with him, as well as Ben Stokes (53) who has made a habit of demolishing South African bowlers on the tour.
South African bowler toiled hard for the odd wicket here an there and the pick of the bowlers was the opening pair of Kagiso Rabada and kyle Abbott with 2 wickets apiece. Although England posted a formidable 318-8 in their allotted 50 overs, it was the loss of wickets on regularity that suggested perhaps the Proteas chase under floodlights would not be a stroll in the park.
A stroll in the park indeed it was. Enter de Kock and Amla, the chase was made to look much easier that it should have been. Amla was largely a spectator when de Kock tore to shreds England bowlers to parts of the ground in racing to his 10th century in only his 55th ODI cap, becoming the youngest to reach the feat at only 23 years of age. He struck 16 fours and 4 sixes in his aggressive knock of 135(117 balls) before he eventually skied one from spinner Adil Rashid to be caught by Root.
Even by then the Proteas only needed 80 off 79, which was not to going to trouble a line up boasting of Faf du Plesis, Ab de Villiers and company. Amla ‘s own century was well composed as always and although he fell for 127 at almost a run a ball, the writing was on the wall as the Proteas ensured a record highest successful chase at the ground.
The 4th ODI moves to Wanders stadium in Johannesburg on Friday 12 February, another day night encounter.
ENGLAND 318-8 (50 overs) J.Root 125, A.Hales 65, B.Stokes 53. K.Abbott 2-50(10), K.Rabada 2-65(10)
SOUTH AFRICA 319-3 (46.2 overs) Q.de Kock 135, H.Amla 127 A.Rashid 1-45 (10)
Result : South Africa win by 7 wickets
Man of the match : Q.de Kock