May 29, 2017
Start time 11am local (1000 GMT)
David Miller and Chris Morris contemplate failing to score seven off the final over at the Ageas Bowl © Getty Images
After the liveliest of finishes, a dead rubber. England’s resurrection at the Ageas Bowl condemned South Africa to their first defeat in a bilateral ODI series since 2015 but there will still be interest in the third match, at Lord’s, thanks to the imminence of the Champions Trophy, which begins on Thursday.
South Africa could look back on Saturday’s two-run defeat and legitimately wonder what went wrong. Having made good use of the overcast conditions after winning the toss, the fact England had been 13 for 1 after five overs of their innings looked like being the key difference between two hefty totals. Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers and David Miller had all weighed in and, with ten balls to go, the chase appeared to be well in hand.
Jake Ball and, in particular, Mark Wood ensured that would not be the case. England had to scrap with every fibre to defend 330 – which gives an indication of where their strengths lie – but the fact they managed to pull it off, without their senior ODI bowler in Chris Woakes and with Ben Stokes only delivering three overs, will add to the sense of optimism around the team.
Stokes’ importance was illustrated with bat in hand, though South Africa could again reflect on the fact England’s centurion might have been caught off the first two balls he faced. He cashed in his good fortune and left South Africa ruing their luck (as well as their catching). England have now won eight ODIs in a row – two short of their best run – and may feel they have yet to properly click.
For both teams, the fine-tuning will continue on Bank Holiday Monday. England could rotate, with a few niggles in the squad (notably the mystery of Stokes’ knee) and the desire to give others game time ahead of a major tournament, while South Africa still have questions about their preferred XI. De Villiers was indignant at the way the umpires at the Ageas Bowl raised questions about the state of the ball, and he will hope to retrain the focus by getting a win on the board before the Champions Trophy.
England WWWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa LLWLW
In the spotlight
There may still be question marks over England’s bowling but, with the batsmen regularly throwing up 300-plus scores, they at least have the cushion of big runs to defend. Liam Plunkett has capitalised on this in 2017, with only Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan taking more than his 20 wickets so far. Plunkett’s experience and skill – particularly in delivering the ball cross-seam – has been apparent in both games against South Africa, his dismissal of AB de Villiers on Saturday potentially a match-winner. With Woakes rested, he is effectively the leader of the seam attack.
Although David Miller was not quite able to finish off the chase, his performance in the second ODI demonstrated his increased importance to South Africa. During the last ten overs, he faced just two dot balls, making light of a slow pitch and two old balls – conditions de Villiers felt made England favourites to defend the target after Quinton de Kock fell with 120 still needed. With JP Duminy lacking form and Farhaan Behardien seemingly ill-equipped as a finisher, Miller brings clinical power to the middle order and could allow them to play another allrounder.
The temptation to rest Stokes will be strong, with concerns over his left knee and the amount of bowling he can get through – even if the man himself won’t countenance the idea. Woakes is likely to be given another game off to recover from tightness in his quad, which could mean another outing for Jake Ball, or possibly a return for David Willey.
England: (probable) 1 Jason Roy, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Ben Stokes/Jonny Bairstow, 6 Jos Buttler, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Adil Rashid, 9 Liam Plunkett, 10 Mark Wood, 11 Jake Ball/David Willey
South Africa made three changes for the second ODI and could make as many again at Lord’s. De Villiers has previously said Morne Morkel will get a game, while Keshav Maharaj will hope for a second outing after seeing three catches dropped off his bowling on debut. Could Morris or Wayne Parnell do a worse job than Behardien at No. 6?
South Africa: (probable) 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 David Miller, 6 Chris Morris, 7 Wayne Parnell, 8 Andile Phehlukwayo, 9 Dwaine Pretorius, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Keshav Maharaj/Imran Tahir
Pitch and conditions
England racked up 328 for 6 against Ireland earlier this month, with Lord’s surfaces tending towards batsmen-friendly. The possibility of showers breaking up the afternoon may encourage whoever wins the toss to chase for a third match running.
Stats and trivia
- South Africa have lost all three of their ODIs at Lord’s, all against England. The most recent was a six-wicket defeat in 2012.
- Hashim Amla needs another 23 runs to reach 7000 in ODIs. He has 11 innings in which to get there ahead of Virat Kohli and continue his record of being fastest to 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000 and 6000.
- Stokes and Moeen Ali both need three more wickets to reach 50 in ODIs.
“It’s unbelievable really. I don’t know how to explain it. To have won it without taking wickets is an unbelievable effort.”
Eoin Morgan tries to work out how England stole victory at the death
“There’s a lot still to play for at Lord’s and I think if we play a similar hand there, that’s all we want. A win will be great.”
AB de Villiers targets another good performance – and a better result
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo