There was a meaty total of 330/6 on the board for the Proteas to pursue, a decent track and a captive audience.
Beyond the Stormers’ visit to
But in the cold light of retrospect,
Going into the final over, David Miller (71 from 51 balls) and Chris Morris (36 from 22 balls) needed seven to seal a famous chase of 331, but were denied by a nerveless Mark Wood, who secured a two-run win for England.
There will be loud laments about the balls gobbled up by the ineffective Farhaan Behardien (17 off 25 deliveries), who replaced JP Duminy.
Had Morris come in ahead of him, there may have been a different conclusion. But the world doesn’t revolve on what-ifs and if-onlys.
The Proteas, brutal as it may sound, gave their rivals fresh ammunition to aim at them and their ability to soak up pressure in a high-stakes chase.
Quinton de Kock, as is his wont, followed up his failure in
More was the pity that he didn’t reach three figures, but bank on him coming good when it really matters. Between he and AB de Villiers (52), they just about broke the back of the English total, with an alliance dripping with quality and intent.
But, just like Messrs Amla and Du Plessis, there was a dereliction of duty.
Had one of them gone through, the whole matter may have been a procession. However, they fell with considerable meat on the bone, and Miller and Morris just couldn’t stomach it all.
De Villiers had a bee in his bonnet, and his body language did little to hide his dissatisfaction at the umpires not being in agreement about the match ball.
It didn’t look as if anyone in a green shirt was having too much fun out in the field, and
Andile Phehlukwayo came in for the first bit of punishment in a Proteas jersey, and lost his bearings at the end. If he is to be the death-bowling option along with Kagiso Rabada, a definitive plan is needed – and a Plan B, just in case.
Rabada stood alone, with comparatively miserly figures of 2/50. On the evidence of the first two matches, the experience and expertise of Morné Morkel can no longer be ignored.
It's unfortunate we didn't get across the line, but I'm really proud of the way we batted until then (last over). - AB
Keshav Maharaj had a debut he will not forget. He could just as easily have had tidy figures with the cheap scalps of Alex Hales and Ben Stokes. Instead, both were shelled, and he was plundered in his latter spells. Stokes went on to register a ton, and that was the difference, ultimately.
Most of their batsmen are in decent touch, but they need to find their ruthless streak. Their bowlers, however – and the fielders – need to go back to the basics, because they have missed the mark badly so far.
The series concludes at Lord’s on Monday.Independent Media