• SA vs England: Talking points (5th ODI)

    Tom Sizeland reflects on the players and moments that shaped the fifth ODI in Cape Town on Sunday.

    What a way to celebrate 200 ODIs. AB de Villiers’ demotion to No 5 behind Rilee Rossouw was seen with some skepticism at first, but the decision was vindicated with a match-winning knock from the captain. He came in with his side in all kinds of trouble on 22-3, but the old heads combined to great effect, as Amla got 59, while De Villiers struck at a run-a-ball throughout for his 101.

    The best shot of the day proved to be the only runs Rilee Rossouw actually scored. His on-drive for four to get off the mark was one for the highlights reel, but a loose shot saw the end of him soon after. A notable mention must go to David Wiese for two of the cleanest strikes you will see in a while, both sixes coming in a row off Adil Rashid in the 39th over.

    Reece Topley deserves a mention for his blistering opening spell to remove Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and Rilee Rossouw, but the bowler on the winning side takes the credit and that goes to Kagiso Rabada, for seeing off the dangerous Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler in the space of three deliveries, before ending Alex Hales’s brilliant knock, preventing England from finishing strong.

    Topley was excellent with the new ball. What he lacks in pace he makes up for in accuracy and swing, and you couldn’t ask for a better delivery to someone facing their first ball, as he got it to swing in to Du Plessis just enough to make him chop it on to his stumps.

    The Proteas caught well all day. The pick of the six catches goes to Farhaan Behardien, who timed his jump to perfection to hold onto a sharp chance that saw off Moeen Ali.

    That honour goes to the skipper, as De Villiers utilised his bowlers extremely well. It wasn’t the best bowling display from the Proteas as most of the English players got themselves out, but Imran Tahir was brought on as early as the fifth over and it worked a treat as he took the first wicket before being taken off immediately after that. Wiese was then brought on after drinks and took a wicket in his first over, too. Then, with Stokes and Hales threatening to post a big total for their side, Kagiso Rabada was introduced, and took two wickets in the 28th over. It was the wickets at regular intervals which damaged the tourists.

    He won’t be particularly fond of that tag, but there’s no denying that Alex Hales is a white-ball specialist, for the time being. He might well get another chance in white clothing, but he averaged 17 at a strike rate of 39 in the four Tests. In ODIs, he not only became the first Englishmen to score at least a half-century in every match of a five-match ODI series, but the maturity he showed throughout would have delighted the England camp, as he all but carried his bat through on two occasions.

    Farhaan Behardien struck Moeen Ali for six in the first ball of the 33rd over, and that was job done for the over. But you could tell that he wasn’t satisfied with that, as a few nervy strokes followed throughout the rest of the over unnecessarily. The next over brought about his downfall, as a reckless stroke was hit straight to mid-on. Had South Africa lost this one, fingers would have been pointed at Behardien, as the pressure was heaped back on.

    De Villiers went to the crease with the Proteas reeling on 22-3, but experience is everything, as the cool heads of the skipper and Amla saw the pressure switched back on to the English. It was a near-faultless display from De Villiers, taking all the singles that were on offer, striking some brilliant boundaries along the ground, before bringing up three figures for a record-extending 24th time.


    Picture: Gallo

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    Tom Sizeland