July 3, 2003

A cruise for Kallis

South Africa 227 for 3 (Kallis 82*, Rudolph 71*) beat England 223 for 7 (Trescothick 60) by seven wickets

Jacques Kallis launches Ashley Giles for six at Old Trafford

An unbeaten fourth-wicket partnership of 145 between the two Jacques, Kallis and Rudolph, guided South Africa to an easy and emphatic win against England in the fifth match of the NatWest Series. Batting second under the Old Trafford lights, Kallis continued his sparkling form with an authoritative 82 not out, while Rudolph played with impressive control and maturity for an unbeaten 71 - his second one-day international fifty. For England, however, they will be ruing a lack of runs and an un-enterprising bowling attack, which lacked in penetration.

Kallis and Rudolph were completely unflustered in their calm advance, with both concentrating on placement rather than power, despite the odd big shot towards the end of the victory march. Kallis used his experience to pace his innings to perfection and play in the style the dry and slow Old Trafford dictated, which was to show application and the right temperament - and there aren't many than better than Kallis at that. Although the bulk of his runs came in singles, he treated the crowd to a few exquisite cover drives, and one towering six off the ineffective Ashley Giles.

While Kallis passed 300 runs in the series, Rudolph was like a mirror image at the other end. Left-handed and maybe not as elegant as Kallis with a dominating bottom hand, he too made batting look alarmingly easy. His success was no secret, play the ones and twos and hit the bad ball for four, which is exactly what he did to great effect.

After Herschelle Gibbs and Graeme Smith had fallen early, Kallis and Rudolph - and, to a lesser extent, Andrew Hall- took the sting out of the England attack a little too easily for Michael Vaughan's liking. Hall's wicket (82 for 3) threatened to get things going again, but England showed little stomach for the fight.

Darren Gough started brightly but the batteries quickly ran out, while James Anderson had another disappointing game. He has set himself high standards to maintain, but he was affected when twice warned by Billy Bowden for following through on to the danger area. Even though he got his revenge on Graeme Smith, with whom he collided in mid-pitch with a peach of an inswinger, like the rest of the bowlers, he became more and more ineffective.

Giles bowled round the wicket to the right-hander for the first time in the series, but rather than adding to his solitary wicket this summer, he conceded 18 from his first three overs. He later reverted to his customary line of attack, but it made little difference.

As Kallis and Rudolph strolled ever nearer to their target, England were in desperate need for a wicket and Vaughan turned first to the old campaigner Gough to make something happen. But Rudolph was having none of it and cut him immediately for four. Kallis then cover-drove Richard Johnson for four in following over, the fifty partnership came up in 74 balls, and you sensed South Africa were winning the race.

England didn't bowl well, and despite a late repair job from Chris Read and Giles, they didn't bat well either. Marcus Trescothick, playing in a record 68th consecutive one-day international for England, and Anthony McGrath shared a rescuing record third-wicket partnership for England against South Africa, but their total of 223 for 7 was not nearly enough.

Shaun Pollock took a bit of stick at The Oval, and while questions were being asked about his form and hunger, he showed he was back to his miserly best, removing Vaughan for 3 in a stingy spell of 1 for 21 from his 10 overs.

For South Africa it was sweet revenge for The Oval, for England it revived bad memories of their defeat against Zimbabwe at Trent Bridge where a lack of invention in the field cost them dear.

Click here for the Wisden Verdict