South Africa v England, 3rd ODI, Centurion February 10, 2016

SA stay alive with 'hungry' performance


South Africa's bowlers decisively pulled things back in the last few overs © AFP

Just as South Africa's situation had reached a do-or-die stage, they did.

Their bowlers pulled England back, from what could have become a 350-plus score, to take four for 22 in the dying stages of the innings and restrict them to 318. Then Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla set South Africa up for the highest successful chase at SuperSport Park, the only ground to have witnessed the team's success so far this summer. It was the performance of a team that was not willing to be defeated and it could be the start of a turnaround that will salvage South Africa's season.

"We were pretty desperate to get a result in this game. It's hopefully the signs of really good things to come," AB de Villiers said.

Two run-outs, good catches like JP Duminy's grab at leg-gully to dismiss Jos Buttler, and a fine fielding performance told de Villiers his team had recommitted to the cause. "You can always rate the morale of the side in the way they field out there and we showed a lot of hunger in the field, there were a lot of bodies being thrown around to stop the ball and great attitude," he said.

There was also a better balance to the South Africa XI after they dropped the seventh specialist batsman, replacing Rilee Rossouw with an allrounder, David Wiese. Although Wiese was expensive and the experiment to use him as a pinch-hitter at No.3 failed, he gave South Africa a level of security, knowing they had a fifth frontline bowler. De Villiers did not go as far as saying Wiese corrected any imbalances and insisted he just "brings a lot to the party with bat and ball in hand." Wiese's presence meant Duminy did not have to bowl at all and Farhaan Behardien was only used when Imran Tahir became a liability.

England have targeted Tahir, who has only two wickets in the series, but de Villiers is keeping the faith in his No.1 spinner. "He is one of the best bowlers in the word. He is still one of my go-to guys and he has got a lot of x-factor about him," de Villiers said. "He will play a role somewhere in this series and win a game for us and have an impact like we know he can."

Similarly, England continued to back the team that put them 2-0 up, which meant leaving Stuart Broad on the sidelines. Eoin Morgan did not think it was time to panic about including Broad for experience's sake just yet but will consider him for the next match as England aim to seal the series. "Today we didn't hit our straps. We have two spinners, variation with the two left-armers and Stokes and Jordan for a bit of pace," he said. "I've considered tweaking the attack every game so we will consider it again.

The fourth match, or South Africa's second final, is the pink match in aid of breast cancer at the Wanderers. The hosts have never lost in pink and if history repeats itself, that could set the series up for a grand showdown in Cape Town on Sunday. But England still hold all the aces.

Their strength is their batting line-up which Morgan said was only getting more confident as they keep piling on runs. "Our batting unit seemed to grow every game that they play and that's hugely encouraging. We haven't had any hiccups yet," he said. "Joe Root showed his class, scoring another hundred, and his experience now is that of a leader within the group and that's great to see."

South Africa will feel they have something similar in de Kock, especially when both he and Amla get going. "If you get good solid starts, it's easier for the batting line-up to understand the rhythm of the game and get your pace right. It just frees the middle order up a lot," de Villiers explained. Now the hosts have to hope their advantage has not come too late.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • EllaGingio on February 12, 2016, 10:20 GMT

    @LERATO H NYELELE MJOLI - JP averaged 14 last year in ODI'S ? How have you worked that out? Yeah agree he struggles against off spin but then so does miller and arguably Faf.

  • Lerato H Nyelele Mjoli on February 12, 2016, 5:33 GMT

    Duminny who made 58 of 78 balls not good enough eats a lot of balls.....what I hate about him is he has lost that gift to rotate the strike which he had when he started and can't play off spin to save his life that is shocking for someone of his experience

  • Lerato H Nyelele Mjoli on February 12, 2016, 5:30 GMT

    jp averaged 14 last year in ODis where all the other batters averaged except for quincy dekock over 40....and dekock was dropped why can't jp experience the same also

  • EllaGingio on February 11, 2016, 12:03 GMT

    @CREADY&Ralf12 - firstly who are these better players? And why drop Duminy? He actually has a lot more to offer than either miller or roussow and arguably even FAF! He is asked to bat now between 6-8 as the finisher, where he is more often than not coming in with remaining overs dwindling and the task of upping the tempo whether it's setting or chasing down a target. Also means he generally doesnt get the chance to feast on the flat tracks like the top order do! When given the chance to bat higher up or with more overs he is generally dependable! Take the last ODI for example came in at about 20 overs to rebuild and was 2nd highest scorer even with a shocking decision. I think Duminy even averages more than FAF does when batting in the top 5! So I don't get why it's Duminy who should be dropped?

  • blahblah1234567 on February 10, 2016, 22:44 GMT

    yes agree with faghime murat. where is shamsi?

  • Ralf12 on February 10, 2016, 15:43 GMT

    It is not that JP is a terrible player. It is just that there are better players out there who deserve a chance.

  • faghmie murat on February 10, 2016, 15:38 GMT

    one thing I realised is south africa dont know whats talent.. where is tabraiz shamsi? is csa crazy to not include this guy!!! what people talking of harmer or piedt clearly use dont know cricket... this guy deserves his place he must be in south africas attack ahead of tahir leie and funny phangiso with his left arms sliders.. shamsi turns the ball square both ways and exelent economy .. ai

  • Cready on February 10, 2016, 15:25 GMT

    @ELLAGINGIO. Shucks mate, we're certainly not calling for JP's dropping, we just want them to drop him. I don't have a huge problem with Duminy, but if he plays at the cost of a class act like Rossouw, or even Miller (which still has a lot to prove imo btw) then I would call for him to be dropped. But his dropping.... good heavens no!

  • EllaGingio on February 10, 2016, 14:57 GMT

    "Can dummy and behardien win u a match single handedly? BIG NO..." yet duminy has been one of SA'S most consistent middle order players for the last couple of years! Even last match he was 2nd top scorer and he got a shocker and given Leg Before Sightscreen! I can't understand why so many calls for JP's dropping in ODI'S?

  • Ravelsnip on February 10, 2016, 12:37 GMT

    I would say pick both miller and rossow for the next match in place of duminy and behardien... Can dummy and behardien win u a match single handedly? BIG miller or rossow capable of taking the match away from the opposition? HELL YEAH! i don't seem to understand why the selectors can't break this simple logic.

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