England skipper Eoin Morgan believes the nail-biting one-day international defeat to South Africa at the Wanderers will prove to be a vital learning curve for his young squad.
The tourists were edged out by one wicket in Johannesburg after Chris Morris blasted 62 off 38 balls at the death to help the Proteas chase 263 and level the five-match series up at 2-2.
England were in control by reducing South Africa to 210 for eight in the 42nd over, but Morris’ heroics ensured they fell just short.
“We have got a lot more to offer in the changing room,” Morgan told ecb.co.uk. “We have a very young squad and the more games that we play in that are nail-biters like this the better the side will become because of it.
“I think producing performances under pressure for young guys is a must going into international tournaments. It was great that it was a nail-biter, but disappointing to lose.”
England will get another chance to test themselves in a high-pressure environment on Sunday when they face the Proteas in a winner-takes-all decider in Cape Town.
“Ultimately it is a final and we want to play in as many finals as we can,” Morgan said. “We are really looking forward to Cape Town and hopefully produce a good performance.
“I think the high of playing in a series decider overrides anything that has happened previously.
“For our younger guys we want the experience of playing in a one-off match because we don’t have the privilege of playing in a lot of tri-series so having a one-off match and a must-win game is really good.”
Despite the defeat, Morgan was satisfied with the improvements England made to their bowling following their heavy loss at Centurion on Tuesday.
SA win a thrilling 4th ODI by one wicket after Chris Morris’ brilliant 62-run late salvo. Series decider coming up. pic.twitter.com/YWZivJSDtK
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) February 12, 2016
The skipper called for a better showing with the ball, having struggled to impose themselves at SuperSport Park, and until the final eight overs they did just that as they attempted to defend a below-par 262.
“It was a great game of cricket to play in,” he said. “It was probably a little bit frustrating from our point of view, but I can understand how everyone here enjoyed the game. It was a real nail-biter.
“To come out at half-time with 260 on the board we were probably feeling that we were about 30 short. How we turned the game around in our favour was a huge credit to this group.
“An area from the last game that we identified we needed to improve on was hitting our lengths as often as we can.
“Today we did that and created a lot of chances, some were taken and some weren’t, but ultimately we put South Africa under the pump.”
Morgan refused to believe England had the game in the bag at the back end of the game, mainly because he has seen the damage Morris can do in the past.
The all-rounder, playing instead of the rested Morne Morkel, crashed three fours and four sixes to take the game away from Morgan’s side.
The outcome could have been different if Adil Rashid had held on to a skier when Morris was on just 14.
“You never get too carried away,” he added. “I have played against Morris quite a few times, particularly in the IPL when he has come out and done that and has been a threat down the order.
“We were well aware of what he could do, it was just a matter of executing what we could, potentially taking catches and a run-out opportunity.”