The Proteas have begun their three-month tour to England in disappointing fashion. The performance against England at Headingley lacked accuracy, discipline, and application. To say that the visitors have much to improve on ahead of the second fixture in Southampton, and indeed ahead of the Champions Trophy tournament next week, is an understatement.
The Proteas’ fielding was sloppy. The decision-making at the batting crease unacceptably poor. Yet it was their inconsistency with the ball, particularly at the back end of England’s innings, where they leaked 102 runs in 10 overs that put them under pressure and cost them the game.
Credit should go to England for punishing the Proteas’ mistakes, though. The hosts fought back from 198-5 to finish on 339-6 after their allotted 50 overs. Eoin Morgan (107) spearheaded the counterattack and received some outstanding support from Moeen Ali (77 not out). The pair put on 117 for the sixth wicket and left South Africa with all to do in the second innings.
Following the early departure of Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis combined for a 112-run partnership. Amla looked to be in particularly fine touch, stroking the quick bowlers through the covers with consummate ease.
The Proteas’ charge was checked when Amla missed a straight delivery by Mark Wood in the 25th over. England reviewed after their appeal for lbw was turned down. The third umpire overturned the decision, and Amla had to go for 73.
Poor shot selection factored into the next three dismissals. Du Plessis played down the wrong line to a Liam Plunkett delivery, while JP Duminy and David Miller were both guilty of lofting the ball to the fielder on the on-side.
Captain AB de Villiers watched the horror unfold from the other end of the pitch. Chris Morris attempted to play a reverse sweep, but only succeeded in top-edging the ball to the wicketkeeper. De Villiers too, went out, caught in the 38th over, and with him South Africa’s slim chances of winning.
England 339-6 (50 overs) – Eoin Morgan 107, Moeen Ali 77 not out, Alex Hales 61, Andile Phehlukwayo 2-59
South Africa 267 (45 overs) – Hashim Amla 73, Faf du Plessis 67, Chris Woakes 4-38, Moeen Ali 2-50
England won by 72 runs
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