AB de Villiers thought the Proteas got themselves into a winning position, but also lamented poor fielding as England clinched the series on Saturday.
Having won the toss for the second consecutive match, De Villiers elected to bowl on a surface many felt would get better to bat on as the day went on.
The South African fielders struggled to hold on to catches and drive home the advantage that saw England struggling at 80-3 in the 14th over. The Proteas came to rue dropping Ben Stokes (101 off 70) off both the first two balls he faced.
As the saying goes ‘catches win matches’ and in total the Proteas grassed six chances, far too many for a side that prides itself on great fielding.
Sloppy death-bowling was an issue for the Proteas yet again at the Rose Bowl. Andile Phehlukwayo (1-74) was the most expensive bowler, as he conceded 33 runs off his final two overs to allow England to post 330-6 in their fifty overs.
‘We were a little bit careless at times with ball in hand. There were a couple of overs where we didn’t minimise the damage. There are always overs like that that are a bit expensive but you’ve got to minimise the damage there,’ De Villiers said.
When De Villiers and Quinton De Kock came together in the 17th over with the score on 93-2, it became clear that the pair had to bat deep into the innings if the Proteas were to win. Their 96-run stand was broken when De Villiers got a cracking delivery from Liam Plunkett.
De Kock fell shortly thereafter for 98, two runs short of what would have been a superb century.
When asked about what had cost the Proteas the game, De Villiers pointed to two contributing factors.
‘Small things in the field, and then I’d say Quinton [de Kock] and myself, the two of us got out in close succession and that probably cost us quite a bit,’ De Villiers said.
In spite of the loss of the two South African kingpins, David Miller and Chris Morris kept the Proteas in the game right until the very end.
Despite Morris and Miller’s best efforts, in which they scored 86 runs off nine overs, a fantastic final over from Mark Wood handed the Proteas their first defeat at the Rose Bowl in three ODIs played at the venue.
‘The boys gave it their best shot. I think Chris [Morris] and David [Miller] both played great knocks there, but unfortunately we couldn’t cross the line,’ De Villiers added.
De Villiers feels there are many positives to take into the third and final ODI, but admits there is room for improvement.
‘A win will be great, that’s why we came here and that’s what we’re going to try to do. But more of today with a little bit more care in the field, I think is what is required,’ he concluded.
The final ODI takes place at Lord’s on Monday.