Innings break South Africa 256 for 7 (de Kock 69, Miller 69*, Rashid 3-51) v England
South Africa fell nine runs short of the average first innings score of 265 at the Wanderers, on a pitch that appeared to have many more runs in it, against an England attack filled with slow-bowling options. Despite the Wanderers not having a reputation for being spinner-friendly, England picked both Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid. Along with Joe Root, who bowled seven overs, England’s spinners sent down 27 overs, and conceded 136 runs at just over five an over to keep South Africa mostly quiet in the series decider.
That speaks to South Africa’s ongoing problems against the turning ball, which scant signs of improvement in the middle order. Half-centuries by Quinton de Kock and David Miller at the top and tail of the innings held South Africa together, but they will need a strong performance from an inexperienced attack if they are to defend a proud record in pink. Since 2013, when this fixture was introduced, South Africa have only lost once in their change strip, to Pakistan last year.
Under clearing skies, South Africa made a tentative start to their innings against outswingers from Tom Curran and accuracy from the debutant Saqib Mahmood, who only featured in one spell. Their first seven overs brought just 18 runs before Mahmood bowled Reeza Hendricks with a delivery that burst through the bat-pad gap and appeared to blow the bail off the top of the stumps.
That brought Temba Bavuma to the crease to a rousing hometown welcome and high expectations, more so with memories of his partnership with de Kock at Newlands still fresh in fans’ minds. The pair showed the same intent they had on Tuesday night, with Bavuma striking the ball cleanly on the drive and transferring some of the pressure to the opposition attack. Their stand reached 53 off 58 balls before Eoin Morgan opted for a change of pace and brought on his spinners.
South Africa’s innings stalled in a comical period of play between the 21st and 22nd over, as Moeen, making his first England appearance since August, and Rashid, in his 100th ODI, took hold. De Kock and Bavuma’s partnership had grown to 66 when Rashid clipped Bavuma’s front pad and appealed heartily. Umpire Shaun George must have deemed the delivery had turned too much and Bavuma survived. Rashid sent down a googly next, Bavuma failed to pick it and was hit on the pad again. George raised his finger and Bavuma reviewed and though replays showed the ball was hitting the top of middle and leg-stump, UltraEdge was not working, so, despite an obvious gap between Bavuma’s bat and pad, technology could not confirm that he hadn’t hit the ball.
As a result, South Africa retained their review, which was used on the next ball when Rassie van der Dussen was given out to a Rashid googly and informed he could refer the decision. When he did, it showed the ball was missing leg. England’s irritation with van der Dussen’s reprieve lasted only seven more balls, before he was trapped on the back foot and bowled by Moeen.
Rashid struck again when he took out de Kock’s leg stump with a delivery that gripped and spun as the South African captain tried to slog. By then, de Kock had brought up his 25th ODI half-century and had put on 46-runs with Jon-Jon Smuts for the fourth-wicket, at the highest-scoring rate of the innings at that point – 5.41 runs per over.
The foundation was laid for Miller, yet to bat in this series or for South Africa since September last year, to show off his finishing skills and then some, with some 19.3 overs left in the innings and South Africa yet to reach 150. Miller recognised his own importance, especially when he sent Smuts back after attempting a single off Chris Jordan, who returned to the attack after 17 overs of spin. Smuts hit the ball to midwicket and set off, but Tom Banton made a diving stop and had enough to time to gather and throw to Jonny Bairstow before Smuts could regain his ground.
With a long tail and a wily England attack, Miller struggled to score freely at first, especially as Morgan had held Rashid back for two overs in the last 10, which South Africa entered on 178 for 5. Rashid had Andile Phehlukwayo out lbw, off another googly, and Beuran Hendricks was run out in his final over, with Miller pushing for a run that wasn’t there.
South Africa’s 200 came up at the start of the 45th over but they scored 48 runs in the last five, led by Miller, who opened up in the latter stages. He took a particular liking to Jordan, and plundered 34 runs off the 16 balls he faced from him, including three sixes, all over deep midwicket.