South Africa v England, 3rd ODI, Centurion February 9, 2016

De Kock and Amla power SA to record run-chase


South Africa 319 for 3 (de Kock 135, Amla 127) beat England 318 for 8 (Root 125, Hales 65, Stokes 53) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Play 02:05
'Showed a lot of hunger on the field' - De Villiers

A century of the highest class from Quinton de Kock helped South Africa complete the highest successful run chase in an ODI at Centurion and keep the series against England alive.

With England having won the first two games in the five-match series, South Africa required a win to sustain their hopes of avoiding their first double defeat - in the Test and ODI sections of a tour - at home for 14 years.

But when they conceded 318 it left them requiring a record run chase at this ground on a pitch that had appeared cracked and two-paced during the England innings.

Yet they made light of their target, with an opening stand of 239 in 36.5 overs between de Kock and Hashim Amla racing them to victory with seven wickets and 22 deliveries remaining. They made it appear easy.

It is a pretty special batting performance that eclipses a century from Amla, but so sweetly did de Kock time the ball, so wide was his range of stroke, so little margin for error did he allow the bowlers that a pitch on which few England batsmen looked comfortable was made to appear something approaching a batting paradise.

The statistics of his de Kock's career are worth dwelling upon for a moment. Despite only celebrating his 23rd birthday in December, this was his 10th ODI century in his 55th match. To put that in perspective, nobody has reached the milestone at a younger age (Virat Kohli was the previous holder of that record) and it is as many ODIs centuries as Graeme Smith managed in his entire 196-match ODI career.

England will be relieved South Africa did not select de Kock earlier in the Test series. He has now scored three centuries against them (one in the Centurion Test and two in this ODI series) in his last four international games.

Such is his ability, he forces bowlers to alter their natural length and then punishes the resultant full or short deliveries. Twice in the first over, he eased David Willey through the covers for four. Minutes later he was treating Reece Topley the same way and following it with a perfectly timed drive straight back past the bowler.

Moeen Ali's first delivery was delightfully late cut for four before he was slog-swept for six and when the seamers dropped short in search of a solution, they were pulled with dismissive power. One pick-up pull for six off a Chris Jordan delivery that was only fractionally short was probably the stroke of the day.

With both sides set to name their World T20 squads on Wednesday, there was food for thought here for England. Despite all the progress they have made, with their batting in particular, their bowling attack remains both green and a little lacking in pace. In conditions where there is little swing available, they lack the weapons to dislodge well-set batsmen. Steven Finn might have made a difference, but there may also be a temptation to recall Stuart Broad, an unused member of this ODI squad.

Amla was only marginally less impressive than de Kock. Using his crease to upset the line of the England bowlers, he stroked some balls off his off stump through midwicket and others through extra-cover. When the bowlers reacted by bowling wider of off stump, he unveiled that familiar, flowing drive that has featured in each of his 22 ODI centuries. Only AB de Villiers, with 23, has scored more for South Africa.

Earlier the biggest of Joe Root's seven ODI centuries took England to an apparently challenging total. By the time South Africa struck for the fourth time, they could have been quietly satisfied with their work. Jos Buttler, again promoted to No. 4 to build upon the strong start from England's top order, had fallen first ball clipping to an intriguingly placed leg gully, while Eoin Morgan had laboured for 24 deliveries over his eight runs.

But then Ben Stokes joined Root in a fifth-wicket stand of 82 in eight overs that took England's total from the average to the strong. While Root was not entirely fluent in the early stages of innings, so wide is his range of stroke and so impressive his fitness levels that even when he was struggling to find the boundary, he was accumulating steadily. His 125 was the highest ODI score made by an England batsman against South Africa.

Recognising that, once the shine had left the ball, the pitch became somewhat sluggish, Root started to skip down the pitch to hit the seamers off their length and over mid-on. With the bowlers struggling to hit upon a length that contained him, he punished the resulting short balls with one uppercut for six off Morne Morkel the stroke of the innings. Twice he thrashed full-tosses from Imran Tahir for six over mid-wicket.

He gave one chance, on 44, when de Kock was unable to lay a hand on a tough chance offered off the bowling of David Wiese - a dab to third man that went a little finer than Root intended - but that moment apart, it was another masterful innings by Root.

While de Kock went on to redeem himself, perhaps a key passage of play occurred far earlier. With seven overs and a delivery remaining of their innings, England had six wickets in hand, two batsmen well set and a target in excess of 330 in their sights.

But then Root was run-out following a mix-up with Stokes - Root's drive crashed into the stumps at the non-striker's end and, in the confusion, the pair were caught mid-pitch - and Kyle Abbott, in particular, bowled with control and skill to stall the charge. He dismissed Stokes and Jordan with successive deliveries and, in five overs up to the end of the 48th over, England added just 24 runs.

Such is the depth of England's batting, that even their No.9 and No.10 - two men with 12 first-class centuries between them - are capable of attacking and Adil Rashid and Willey struck a six apiece in plundering 25 from the final two overs. But perhaps that lost momentum in the final seven overs cost them dear.

Maybe Eoin Morgan will also reflect on his decision to bat first. de Villiers made no secret of his desire to bowl first, had he won the toss, and it did appear that conditions eased for batsmen as the lights came into play and the light dew allowed the ball to come on to the bat a little more readily.

Or it may just be that, as with the best innings, the quality of the batting made it seem that way. The sense remains that, whatever England did with the ball and whenever they bowled, on this form de Kock was too good for them.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Keith Waters on February 12, 2016, 9:51 GMT

    @SAYAKBHATTACHARYYA yep and hopefully he can somehow make it 12 odi tons in the next two innings otherwise we're gonna struggle lol

  • Sayak on February 12, 2016, 8:26 GMT

    @ELLAGINGIO : Well you got a point there :) By the way, I personally am a fan of QDK as I already told Tommy earlier in this forum and rate him very highly. He and Rabada are new kids on the block to watch out for . They are the next batch to people like Kohli , Smith, Root etc. and the fact that QDK's name is already being referred in this forum in comparison to these 4 is a testament to his spectacular success so far.

  • Anindo on February 11, 2016, 19:54 GMT

    The Proteas completed their highest successful run chase at home since 2006. Hats off, specially, to Quinton de Kock who showed great professionalism in the first and third ODIs.

  • Keith Waters on February 11, 2016, 14:39 GMT

    @SAYAKBHATTACHARYYA I do agree in test cricket he is no where the other 3 and I actually think he'll struggle to get up to their level of performance on account coming in at 7 he won't get as many opportunities as they do! However in terms of smith he's played 59 innings compared to QDK's 55 so really there's no difference so to rank him the same because of earlier failures and suggest QDK needs to sustain his performances seems pretty biased to me. Considering even if QDK gets 4 ducks in a row he'll still have scored more runs and twice as many hundreds as smith? Surely the sustained performance would be compared to a kohli, Tendulkar, kallis etc etc?

  • Sayak on February 11, 2016, 12:40 GMT

    @ELLAGINGIO : Steven Smith's initial bad performance is still affecting his average . Just like James Anderson. Even after dishing out spectacular performance for quite some time , his blowing average is still just a shy under 30, does not reflect where he stood during that period. Same is applicable for Smith also. If QDK sustains this performance in ODI for some time, he will definitely he is elligible for a higher score than that of SS, but you must also accept that SS does not leave much space to better him at least in SF cricket. Also, you might note that QDK gets a higher score than SS in T-20 in my mark sheet, Regarding QDK's test performance , I am sure you will agree he is nowhere near the other 4 as of now and that is reflected in his score there. I am sure he will take himself to similar levels of the other four in tests also once he gets a consistent run from SA selectors.

  • Keith Waters on February 11, 2016, 11:56 GMT

    @SAYAKBHATTACHARYYA I can't see how have you come up with your "numerical analysis"? You are comparing QDK to different middle order players who roughly bat in the same position in all formats where as he bats lower order in tests and opens in ODI'S, that's quite a tough comparison to make. Also you have SS and QDK on same ODI rating of 8.5 yet in less innings QDK has scored double the hundreds and more runs at a better average than Smith, surely he should be higher rated?

    @METALHED69 and how many times do you remember klusener coming in with SA 100/5 in an odi and blasting a hundred from No7 or 8? I would suggest none since he only scored 2 odi hundreds and they where batting in the top 3! Although I would agree that Klusener was a better bowler, Behardian is starting proving himself as a decent finisher of an innings and he actually has a higher career SR than Klusener.

  • Clement on February 11, 2016, 9:06 GMT

    @Gladiator1976 I think they're comparing him to SA's older lower order which often had to bail SA out when the top order failed. People forget how many times Cullinan, Kirsten and even Gibbs failed only for Pollock, Klusener and Boucher to carry SA home. It is why SA got into so many games where they needed 10 runs off the last over with only 2 wickets left and the entire stadium would be on the edge of its seat before Klusener cleared the ropes and saved the day, or he top edged it and they fell short after a terrible choking session.

    Behardien, on the other hand, has been in the team for a while. The problem is that when the top order has collapsed, he and the rest of the lower order have generally failed to carry SA across the line. Do you feel confident that if SA was 100/5 after 30 overs that Behardien could blast 100 and help SA post a decent total? I don't know if he could, to be honest. He is also not as useful a bowler as Klusener was so why not put Rilee there instead?

  • Sayak on February 11, 2016, 7:46 GMT

    @TOMMYTUCKERSAFFA : Yes, the analysis was solely on batting, and QDK did not get any credit on his wicket-keeping skills. If you consider all round contribution, then he will come up higher. BTW I noticed QDK 2-3 years earlier in a CL T-20 match he was probably a teenager then and not even played for SA . After seeing some of his shots , I jumped off the couch and shouted "whatta talent!". I rate him very highly and happy to see that my initial take of him was not wrong. If he stays on course , he will surely challenge Gilly one day as the best wicket-keeper batsman in the history of cricket. It is probably the fault of SA selectors and his earlier immaturity that he is becoming a regular in test sides just now. I am sure , he will catch up with the rest 4 in test cricket also in a year or two.

  • amakan on February 11, 2016, 3:37 GMT

    Woeful balling by England. There is no thing as an off-day when representing your country.

  • Ed on February 11, 2016, 3:10 GMT

    There is no temtstion, from any England fans, to select Broad. Trust us.

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