Kagiso Rabada took 4-39 to set the Proteas’ up for a seven-wicket victory against England at Lord’s.
South Africa will take heart from their all-round performance in the third and final ODI against England. Rabada spearheaded an improved collective display with the ball, the Proteas fielders held their catches, and the batsmen chased down a low target of 154 inside 29 overs.
The performance, as well as the result, means little in the context of the three-game series, though. England thumped the Proteas by 72 runs in Leeds, and then clinched the series with a two-run victory in Southampton.
All-rounder Ben Stokes, as well as bowlers Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett, were not risked for the final game at Lord’s. England did not compete with the same intensity, which was hardly surprising given there was nothing at stake.
By contrast, the Proteas appeared desperate to prove a point. They were well below par in the first two matches of the series, especially with the ball and in the field. After winning the toss at Lord’s, skipper AB de Villiers admitted that his side needed to find some form before the all-important Champions Trophy, which commences later this week.
The response was immediate. Rabada and Wayne Parnell produced a series of full, swinging deliveries. The England batsmen failed to deal with the pace or allow for the swing, and only succeeded in nicking out. By the end of the fifth over, the hosts were reeling at 20-6.
Rabada did the bulk of the damage for the Proteas during this period. The South African spearhead took all four of his wickets in his first three overs. That performance effectively destroyed England’s chances of posting a competitive total and set South Africa up for an important win.
Parnell and Keshav Maharaj struck at crucial times for South Africa. Jonny Bairstow led the fightback with a gritty 51, but was eventually dismissed by Maharaj. Upon his return to the side, Morné Morkel battled to hit the right areas. Fortunately for the Proteas, Maharaj was on target and England’s innings came to a close in the 32nd over.
The Proteas batsmen had no trouble adjusting to the pitch. Hashim Amla became the fastest player to 7000 ODI runs, reaching the milestone in his 150th innings. The record was previously held by India’s Virat Kohli (161).
Amla and Quinton de Kock put on 95 runs for the first wicket. Amla scored 73 in the first ODI, while De Kock contributed 98 in the second. It will encourage South Africa to know that both openers are in form ahead of the Champions Trophy.
The Proteas will play their first match of that tournament against Sri Lanka on Saturday.
England 153 all out (31.1 overs) – Jonny Bairstow 51, Toby Roland-Jones 37 not out, Kagiso Rabada 4-39, Keshav Maharaj 3-25
SA 156-3 (28.5 overs) – Hashim Amla 55, Quinton de Kock 34, Jake Ball 2-43
South Africa won by seven wickets
ENGLAND: 1 Jason Roy, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (c), 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Adil Rashid, 8 David Willey, 9 Toby Roland-Jones 10 Steven Finn, 11 Jake Ball
SOUTH AFRICA: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (c), 5 David Miller, 6 JP Duminy, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Keshav Maharaj
Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images