Hashim Amla suggested that the Proteas conceded too many unnecessary runs, which helped England post the highest total at Headingley on Wednesday.
The Proteas elected to bowl first on a surface conducive for batting and allowed the hosts to recover after losing their top five for 198, to see them post 339-6 in their allotted overs.
The bowling attack of Kagiso Rabada (1-63), Chris Morris (2-61), Wayne Parnell (1-47), Andile Phehlukwayo (2-59) and Imran Tahir (0-68) were all expensive in the middle overs and at the death.
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Amla commended England Captain Eoin Morgan for his ton as well as Moeen Ali for his 51-ball 77 but feels that his team could have prevented the total from running away from them.
Morgan is one of Amla’s teammates in the IPL for the Kings XI Punjab, and despite acknowledging the England skipper’s contribution, he felt that his side could have throttled the run rate a little more.
‘We know what a quality player he is,’ said Amla.
‘The way he played today kept the scoreboard ticking. He played in an attacking fashion and kept the run rate up in the middle overs. It allowed Moeen to get some runs at the backend and allowed them to set 340.
‘In any ODI 340 is difficult, it is a big total even though it was a good wicket to bat on, we kind of leaked too much.’
A solid 112-run partnership between Amla and Faf du Plessis looked like the Proteas were well on track to chase down the total.
But besides a good partnership, Amla stressed the importance of turning good individual starts into 100s.
‘In any ODI if anyone gets a hundred it’s going to propel you to a good total,’ said Amla.
‘Especially when you bat lower down the order, you don’t often get people batting at 4 or 5, coming late in the game and getting hundreds. That’s why his [Morgan] innings was a game changer as well as Moeen’s 70-odd which helped them get 20-30 more than we expected.
‘We were pretty much on target [in our innings]. The partnership kept us in the game for 20-25 overs,’ added Amla.
‘Unfortunately, none of us got a hundred which obviously makes it a lot easier for batters coming in, we also got out in quick succession.’
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When asked if England are the team to beat in the Champions Trophy, Amla responded:
‘They definitely are a team to beat. There are eight really good teams in the Champions Trophy. England being the home team, does have that on their back and they are a good team, apart from being a home.
‘Last year they played very good cricket and we had a very good series against them not so long ago at home.
‘They are a team that bats deep and has a lot of bowling options. I would say they are one of the top teams in this tournament.’
The Proteas’ next ODI will take place at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.