DURBAN – Incredibly,
And yet, thanks to a rash of flimsy flaps with the bat, they contrived to collapse to a rather forgettable 267 all out, and defeat by 72 runs to a spirited
Some of the Proteas dismissals were atrocious mind-freezes, as the tourists routinely chucked the initiative back to their hosts – just as they looked to be getting back on track to whittle down their mighty target.
In this day of brave cricket, 340 is not the sort of total that gives the very best teams in the world nightmares.
Indeed, for a large part of their pursuit, South Africa were still fancied to get the job done – if only they could stop leaking wickets at a rate as rapid as their scoring.
Somehow, they contrived to turn brave into grave cricket, and the margin flattered the gleeful hosts. It ought to have been a lot, lot closer.
Hashim Amla (73), Faf du Plessis (67) and AB de Villiers (45) all looked like a million bucks, but none of them finished the job.
They sprayed wondrous strokes around the park, and the patrons from
A commentator opined that all of
Quinton de Kock never settled, but Amla and Du Plessis must look at themselves and wonder how neither batted through to make the case a lot more straightforward.
The dismissals were soft, meek surrenders that had little to do with the ball, and a lot more to do with injudicious stroke-making and option-taking.
Those are cornerstones of tournament cricket, and
But, while they floated like butterflies,
David Miller played possibly the shot of the day, lifting Adil Rashid straight and deep into the stands, then promptly countered that with one of the worst strokes of the day – finding deep square-leg off a Chris Woakes loosener.
JP Duminy’s stroke was not much better, and neither was De Kock’s.
De Villiers looked in potent touch, cracking some blistering strokes through the in-field, but he ran out of patience and partners, and the rest followed soon after.
The Proteas had won the toss and opted to bowl on what looked a belter of a wicket. If that is what we can expect for the Champions Trophy, too, the bowlers of the world must brace themselves for bit-part roles in the tournament.
He got terrific support from the unassuming Moeen Ali, who bludgeoned 77 not out from just 51 balls. Few top-order batters time the ball as sweetly as Ali in full flow, and he mixed that with a hearty dose of power, with five sixes thrown into the mix.
They didn’t allow Imran Tahir to settle, and then tore into the pacemen in the latter stages.
Having looked iffy at 198/5,
Even so, the tourists still looked good value to get 340. And they may well have got there if they hadn’t been so generous with their wickets.
The three-match series continues on Saturday.