AB ton seals series for SA

cAPE Town. – AB de Villiers scored an unbeaten century as South Africa beat England by five wickets to clinch the fifth and final Momentum one-day international and, with it, the series 3-2 at PPC Newlands in Cape Town yesterday.

De Villiers, who struck 11 boundaries and one six in ending unbeaten on 101 off 97 balls, came to the wicket with the hosts in trouble on 22 for three but found a partner in Hashim Amla and David Wiese as the captain guided his side to 237 for five with 36 balls remaining in reply to England’s 236 all out after De Villiers had won the toss and elected to field first.

South Africa were staring down the barrel after Reece Topley (7-1-41-3) had claimed the wickets of Quinton de Kock (4), Faf du Plessis (first ball) and Rilee Rossouw (4).

De Kock feathered a ball through to Jos Buttler behind the stumps and then Du Plessis was completely outdone by a full ball that saw his leg-stump being struck. Rossouw, after playing a wonderful shot through mid-wicket, then offered Alex Hales a simple catch at short extra-cover.

But De Villiers and Amla set about resurrecting the innings and the series with a century stand that lasted 138 balls. Amla contributed 59 runs to the 125-run stand before dancing down the track and being stumped by Buttler off the bowling of Moeen Ali (8-1-37-1). Amla had been extremely patient, facing 93 balls in total while striking four boundaries.

Adil Rashid (10-0-59-1) then had Farhaan Behardien (13) caught by Ben Stokes at mid-on with a poor shot. But the introduction of Wiese provided the calmness, experience and power that the home side required.

With De Villiers rotating the strike as needed, Wiese provided the solid power, striking five boundaries and consecutive sixes to end unbeaten on 41 off 32 balls while sharing in an unbroken stand of 71 for the sixth-wicket with De Villiers to see their side home.

“I’ve been a bit off my game in the last month or so, so it’s nice to finish like that,” De Villiers said at the post-match presentation.

“It’s an integral part of being a captain, you’ve got to lead from the front, you can’t just chip in with small performances.”

Earlier, Hales had posted his highest ODI score of 111 off 127 balls with 14 boundaries as England failed to post a competitive total.

Only Joe Root (27) and Stokes (29) provided any form of support to the tall right-handed opener.

Hales and Root added 61 off 55 balls for the second wicket before Imran Tahir (10-0-53-3) trapped Root in front. Tahir had made the earlier breakthrough when he trapped Jason Roy (8) dead in front in the fifth over.

Eoin Morgan (2) chased a wide delivery from Wiese (9-0-50-3) only to be caught by De Kock behind the stumps. Stokes then joined Hales and the pair raised 70 runs off 67 balls to leave England well-placed on 155 for two but then Kagiso Rabada (9-0-34-3) returned to the attack and changed the complexion of the innings.

Rabada clean-bowled Stokes and then Buttler (nought) while Hales watched from the other end. Ali (12), Chris Woakes (nought), Rashid (9) and Stuart Broad (13) failed to make an impact as England lost their last eight wickets for 81 runs.

South Africa, after losing the first two ODIs in Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth, returned to winning ways in Centurion with a comfortable seven-wicket win before completing a narrow one-wicket victory in Johannesburg.

“I didn’t think we were that far off in the first two ODIs so the belief was still there, we just had to find a little bit of confidence and that’s where things turned around,” De Villiers said.

The Proteas are the first team since Pakistan in 2005 to come back from 2-0 down in an ODI series and claim victory, and just the fourth in the history of the 50-over game.

Hales ended the five-match ODI series as the leading run scorer with 383 runs at an average of 76,60 which included four fifties and one century while Root ended second on 351 runs at 70,20. De Kock was third on the list and the best South African with 326 runs at 81,50. – Supersport.


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