South Africa v England, 1st ODI, Bloemfontein February 3, 2016

SA were 'on target' to win - de Villiers

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'Not going to be too hard on our bowlers' - De Villiers

While farmers across the Free State welcomed the rain that fell on Wednesday night, South Africa's cricketers would not have minded if it stayed dry for a few more hours. The hosts believed they were on track to take the opening honours, despite losing by 39 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern calculation.

"It was advantage England but our run rate was right up there. I think we gave them a nice scare and showed them what we are all about as a top seven," captain AB de Villiers said.

South Africa were batting at 7.46 runs to the over, not too far behind the initial required run rate of eight an over to chase down 400. Their required run rate had climbed to 8.20 when the clouds burst but with five wickets in hand and Quinton de Kock unbeaten on a career-best 138, de Villiers was confident they would have got over the line. "We were exactly on target; spot on with our run rate. It would have been a nice finish," de Villiers said.

De Kock, the man in the middle at the time, backed himself to bat through even as cramp crept on him as his innings grew long. "I haven't scored a hundred like that in a while so it was nice to stay in. Unfortunately because of the rain, I couldn't carry the team, but I'm sure there will be many more opportunities to do that," he said. "It was touch and go but pushing to England's side. It was a bit of steep total but we would have done out best to get there, given the chance."

Eoin Morgan agreed that viewers were denied a thriller but was not drawn into whether England felt under pressure. "We would have liked to have played a full game against a strong South African side. It would have been a good ending," Morgan said.

South Africa might have believed their chance was buried when de Villiers was caught on the boundary by Ben Stokes in the 20th over, with rain already in the air. At that stage, South Africa had amassed 151 for the loss of two wickets but needed to be 169 for 2 t the end of the over to meet the DLS target. De Villiers was trying to get those other 18 runs when he was dismissed.

He admitted if he had been luckier, the result could have been different, while also hinting there were some questions over whether Stokes was in the field of play when the catch was taken because the wind had blown the boundary rope further away than where it was originally placed.

"If I batted another 30 minutes there, we would have been in a good position," de Villiers said. "There are lots of rumours of theories going on in the change room. Lots of guys think I was unlucky there. But I am happy to walk off when the umpire gives me out. It was a silly shot. I am better than that."

De Kock also shrugged it off as part of the game. "Chasing a big target, a couple of those shots are needed," he said. "It's unfortunate that it was AB and Ben Stokes decided to pluck it out the air like that. It could have gone for six and we could have been on Duckworth-Lewis on the winning side."

Perhaps South Africa really lost in the first innings, when their bowlers leaked runs against an aggressive England line-up. De Villiers was gentle on his attack, even though they started waywardly and the fifth bowler, shared between JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien, cost 93 runs. "I'm not to going to be hard on my bowlers," he said.

Morgan agreed that the Bloemfontein surface was a "bowler's graveyard" but praised Jos Buttler for a match-winning century even though he was not awarded Man of the Match. "Jos was phenomenal. He is the kind of player who can change the game," he said

The England captain had similarly praiseworthy words for the rest of his line-up, who all contributed to the team's second-highest ODI score ever. "It's important to create an environment where everybody believes they have a chance," he said. "It was a nice way to start."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Thommo7 on February 5, 2016, 15:14 GMT

    All these efforts to belittle England's win is really becoming a bit childish ; they won within the realms of the rules and conditions of play and they were WAY ahead when play was abandoned . We will have to do a bit better and preferably also talk less nonsense .

  • Pelham_Barton on February 5, 2016, 14:10 GMT

    Martin on February 5, 2016, 7:58 GMT: Your statement that England didn't win anything is factually incorrect. England won an official ODI cricket match, the result being given correctly in accordance with Playing Condition 21.7.2, which states, in the appropriate context, "the result is a victory, or defeat, by the margin of runs by which the score exceeds, or falls short of, the Par Score." This playing condition is just as integral a part of the match rules as the restriction of overs by individual bowlers.

  • Valavan on February 5, 2016, 13:20 GMT

    SA Fans, accept the reality. England played better on that day. Yes SA is still the better side than England, a match is not won based on stats, its won how the team functions on that day. I watched one important thing here, England were consistently loosing wickets but anyway managed closed to 400. Even wickets fell, that didn't affect the momentum. In SA only FAF, QDK partnership was the positive, rest all the scoring done by QDK. i sincerely wished that QDK scored a 200 but England were one wicket away from opening the tail?? England lost the fifth around 305 and SA lost around 250. Any indian fans giggling at SA's losses. dont forget that India does the same when they are out of SC. cricinfo please publish...

  • markatnotts on February 5, 2016, 12:51 GMT

    @DIRI, "So yes England were ahead after 33 overs in yesterday's game but going on history of SA cricket over the last 10 years SA could of still won." That is about as relevant as my job title - the rules have changed since the World Cup and the last 10 overs are not quite as easy to plunder as they were. If you actually watched the match de Kock's innings, as magnificent as it was could well have been near its end. He was suffering cramp and looking visibly tired, compounded with the pressure of losing his partners and SA not batting quite so deep as England the odds are England would have won comfortably in a full game. Remember at one point England could have gone well past 450, but they didn't.

  • wereyorkshire on February 5, 2016, 11:06 GMT

    its not like ABDV to trash talk, so the pressure must be getting to him (his own form hasn't exactly been fantastic).

  • JG2704 on February 5, 2016, 8:25 GMT

    @PIETER THERON -re "but if SA was so out of contention, why did the ENG team sprint off the field the moment the umpires decided to go off for rain? Did they think the rain would melt them? You would think that the English would be used to rain. All that says to me is that the players thought there was still a chance SA could win." Just an opinion here and it may be far fetched but maybe the players sprinted from the field (just wearing shirts on top) because they didn't want to get unnecessarily soaked. I realise as an Englishman living in the wet South West that we get a fair amount of rain and while we are used to it most of us wouldn't stay out in it unless we had suitable clothes and a purpose. Just another point - once the umpires signalled for the players to go off , how would ambling off the field be signalling intent above sprinting off? Can understand your point if they were slowing it down on field or slow coming back out if there was a resumption

  • JG2704 on February 5, 2016, 8:12 GMT

    @TOMMYTUCKERSAFFA. ON FEBRUARY 4, 2016, 9:41 GMT - To chase the original target of 400 down SA would have needed to score at over 9 an over with 5 wickets in hand. Of course with QDK going like he did it was possible. But you say the word "Certain" and 9 an over these days being easy. But the facts are that SA were 150 away from the target and down to the last 2 proper batsmen. And 9 an over isn't the ask it used to be but it's not as easy as you make it out to be. Even QDK's inns SR was less than 150 (150 = 9 an over) and he'd been in there some time. If it was easy to hit 9 an over from the off - and please bear in mind that time wasn't on their side to have players build an inns - then why did no one manage it and only Faf and QDK manage a SR of over 100?

  • Martin - on February 5, 2016, 7:58 GMT

    All this posturing about who was ahead etc - it's all quite mad. England were favourites as they had the runs on the board but SA were by no means out of it. All these "what if's" are just wild speculation. England didn't "deserve" to win. They didn't win anything - they were simply judged to be ahead when the rains came - nothing more - and we all know how flawed D/L is. No one knows who would have won so stop all the silly predictions.

  • simplythebest... on February 5, 2016, 7:20 GMT

    What I don't get is all the talk of AB playing a 'rash shot'?? The fact is that it was simply a blinding catch from Stokes. If that had been any other fielder (bar Jordan possibly), that would have been a boundary and everyone would have been saying how great AB was to start motoring. I doubt AB himself would have taken that catch, so praise where it is due and no more excuses.

  • gladiator1976 on February 5, 2016, 6:06 GMT

    TOMMYTUCKERSAFFA. I don't like your big talking. we south Africans don't talk like that. Cricket is a game where any team can win on the day as Bangladesh Zimbabwe Holland, Ireland Scotland and others have shown. In t20 tournaments a good performance by 1 player can win you the game. so don't claim trophies before the time. If we win it we win it and to win t you need some luck and that is something we don't have a lot of. So I ask you to change from this foolishness.

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