South Africa v England, 2nd ODI, Port Elizabeth February 6, 2016

De Villiers targets South Africa fightback

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Hales provides substance for England

The last time South Africa lost a home Test and ODI series against the same opposition over the course of a single tour was 14 years ago, before AB de Villiers had made his international debut. Perhaps that's why, even though they are one loss away from repeating that ignominious feat against Australia, de Villiers remains upbeat about their chances of coming back in the current series.

"England are a good side. They are playing some good cricket at the moment, they look confident but they are not unbeatable," de Villiers said after the Port Elizabeth loss. "We had a couple of opportunities in both the games we played and I know it sounds like I am singing the same song from the Test matches but it's true, it's a matter of getting it right and taking our opportunities. In Bloemfontein we had a chance to get it right, I knew that rain was going to come and we didn't get the timing right. Today again, we had the opportunity to take them down and unfortunately it didn't happen that way."

South Africa squandered some chances in their use of the DRS system - Quinton de Kock used a review early in their innings which could have benefitted JP Duminy later on and the same player later called for a review in the field which was also incorrect against Alex Hales. However, they also let other opportunities slip. At 204 for 4 in the 41st over, despite the tricky nature of the surface, they could have still targeted de Villiers' ideal score of 280-plus. Instead, they lost four for 40 and were kept to 262.

"I thought 280 was par and I said 300 would have been nice. We've got the potential in our batting line-up to get scores like that," de Villiers said. "Unfortunately I got out at a bad time and a couple of dismissals later we were in trouble."

Middle-order meltdowns are not new to South Africa and the state of the current line-up may lead to a recall for David Miller, who South Africans will expect to play in the same mould as Jos Buttler.

AB de Villiers prepares to reverse sweep © Getty Images

Eoin Morgan praised the newly contracted IPL player for his finishing which included slamming three sixes off Imran Tahir in the 46th over to finish things off earlier than expected. "The game was in the balance until that over," Morgan said. "He just took the game by the scruff of the neck, which top-class players do."

De Villiers also had compliments for Buttler but rued the half-chances his own team missed. "He is an outstanding player. He didn't surprise me. He played it to perfection. Just where I thought it was a good chance for us to get a couple of dot balls, he went for the boundary. He outplayed my thinking," de Villiers said.

"It's a fine line, one or two things went his way. Same with Moeen [Ali] and same with [Ben] Stokes. Had those things gone a little bit differently, you never know what would have happened. Those 50-50 calls and 50-50 moments in the game where you have to play well to win the game, we didn't play well."

In the end, England's chase was calculated and clinical but completely unlike the aggressive brand of cricket they have been playing since their reinvention. To be able to pull off that kind of performance proved to Morgan that his team is developing in the right direction.

"Over the past three series we've played, we've only played similar to that once and we came out the back of that challenge really well today," he said. "The style of cricket that we do play is great and hopefully down the line we will improve as a team and that will help us win more competitions and strive to be a better side. Today's performance shows we are not all crash, bang, wallop. we can play proper cricket."

With both bases covered and South Africa struggling to select a properly balanced side, England could easily think they had the series sewn up but, if they do, Morgan knows better than to admit that. "I don't think we have them under the pump. I think today was a huge win for us because the game was in the balance," he said. "If they had got over the line, it would have been a turning point in the series and stolen a lot of momentum from us. The fact that we've won it puts us in a really good position going into Pretoria."

De Villiers may agree with some of that but with three must-win matches in a row, he cannot think further than the next one. "If we were 2-nil up, I would have given you the same answer. It's very important to look at the next ODI and to take it one small step at a time," he said.

"I can't help but think, shit we have got to win three games in a row to win this series. Shucks, I mean. But that's the fact of the matter. In situations like this, whether you are 2-nil up or 2-nil down, you have to take a small step. The next game is important for us. Shucks."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SamRoy on February 8, 2016, 9:46 GMT

    Believe Eng are a far stronger team in limited overs then they are in tests. England are a very good team in tests but they have obvious weaknesses in the middle order. Only Cook and Root average 40. SA's indecisions, team selections, injuries to couple of key players, lack of confidence and a couple of excellent spells from Stuart Broad helped England win a test series which SA could have easily drawn (or even won) if they were more decisive. Anyway, I won't be if England win the ODI series 5-0. England are far and away the best limited overs outfit in the world.

  • simplythebest... on February 8, 2016, 7:39 GMT

    @thozar on February 7, 2016, 20:28 GMT . Do you know anything about white-ball cricket? Topley deliberately bowls slower balls, as do all skilful white ball seamers. Raw pace is not a good idea when there are no slips (or one if you're lucky), the ball just comes off the bat and reaches the boundary quicker. Mid 130's is the perfect pace for seamers to bowl in white ball, if you go over 140 you will more often give away runs than take wickets.

  • simplythebest... on February 8, 2016, 7:33 GMT

    @thozar. England beat Pakistan in UAE just 2 months ago so that ticks that one off the list! They won 3-1 in the ODI series, and 3-0 in T20.

  • Cready on February 8, 2016, 6:10 GMT

    SA need to learn how to control the middle of their innings. They should have had 50 runs more, but the classic SA collapse (or another C word could be used) once again prevented that. Bowling is also not great the bowlers need to learn how to bowl the slower fuller ball and play cleverer Cricket. Yes some of the SA dismissals were stinkers but all in all it was simply another bad performance. I don't think SA can beat England, I don't even think they will beat Zim currently. Hopefully they can get their minds right and get a settled team before the next ODI world cup at least.

  • Rohit Kumar on February 8, 2016, 3:00 GMT

    odi team should be 1.qdk 2.deport 3.amla 4.abd 5.rousuww 6.miller 7.pretouris 8.morris 9.harmer/pdiet 10.rabada 11.morkel and test team should be 1.cook/david white 2.elgar 3.amla 4.abd 5.faf 6.rousuww/bavuma 7.Rudi second(Wk) 8.harmer 9.rabada 10.steyn 11.morkel/philander

  • EllaGingio on February 7, 2016, 21:41 GMT

    @THOZAR yet SA just Beat India in India in the ODI'S and beat Aus in the last tri series they played in SA/Zim oh and England just wone in UAE so your comments are pretty much invalid!

  • saffa79 on February 7, 2016, 21:24 GMT

    1.Amla. 2.QDK. 3.Faf. 4.AB. 5.Rillee. 6.Miller. 7.Morris/Tahir/Elgar/Mclaren. 8.Steyn. 9.philander. 10.Morkel. 11.Radaba. Starting 11 for me

  • saffa79 on February 7, 2016, 21:17 GMT

    When all healthy, the personnel we have to choose from is still very good and capable of beating anyone home or away. 1.Amla

  • saffa79 on February 7, 2016, 21:14 GMT

    @thozar we just beat India in India and you think based on two losses to Eng we will lose to everyone. Come on man at least put a little time and thought into your comments. Spouting out biased veiws seems the norm i guess

  • thozar on February 7, 2016, 20:28 GMT

    @Landl47, would it be possible for you to post a comment without referring to age of players? Sachin was a great when he was 20, he was the greatest when he was 40. Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly, Zaheer got better as they aged. Remember Dravid's three centuries in England in 2011. He was almost 40 at that time.

    About Topley, lol, mid-130s is not fast mate. Almost every Indian fast bowler, except Bhuvi, bowls faster. Imagine Topley bowling to Rohit and Dhawan in full flow. He will be pasted to all corners of the ground. You will see that soon in the T20 World Cup. Rabada is also not a great. He is just ok.

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