In modern day cricket, so many matches are being played that one often doesn’t even realise when the momentum has shifted from one team to the other. South Africa went into the one-dayers having lost the Test series. But, they actually had won the final Test, and as such they had some impetus going into the ODI series. However, England won the first two games, and put the hosts on the back foot. South Africa did commendably well to fight back from that situation and square the series. They will now look to complete the turnaround by clinching the series.
South Africa discovered a new match-winner in Johannesburg as Chris Morris struck a quite fantastic 62 from 38 balls with four huge sixes take South Africa to victory from out of nowhere. It was the kind of knock Lance Klusener played at his peak. The Proteas should be extremely pleased with the manner in which Morris turned the game around, and also reiterated why he got such a huge price at the IPL auction. They will want him to be more consistent now with both the bat and ball in the hand.
The match was significant for South Africa’s bowlers as well. Kagiso Rabada came up with an excellent bowling performance to hold up the England batsmen. Imran Tahir also put up the kind of show South Africa have been expecting from him for a while now. Not only did he claim three wickets, but also kept things extremely tight. However, South Africa have a couple of worry areas. Firstly, they allowed England to recover to 262 after having them down at 108 for 6. With the bat then, plenty of their batsmen got into 20s and 30s before getting out, thus leaving the lower order with too much to do.
England should be disappointed with where they find themselves going into the final match. After two games, there were favourites to win the series. But, not anymore, as South Africa have the momentum going into the decider with back-to-back wins. But, they still have one chance to claim the series. Joe Root has been in stupendous form, with two hundreds in the last two games, though both of them have resulted in defeats. England would still want him to carry on with his great form though. The kind of confidence Root is in, he can be a match-winner on a given day.
Opener Alex Hales has been in fantastic run with the bat. But, if there is one criticism of Hales that can be made, it is that he hasn’t carried on to get the big scores. His wicket at Johannesburg resulted in a batting collapse, the one must avoid to win matches. Skipper Eoin Morgan will need to get some runs. He has failed to reach 30 in the series. Jos Buttler has registered twin failures in a row, so he will be due for some runs. Bowling is a worry for England with even Stuart Broad struggling on comeback. Can England find a way to get back among winning ways?
--By A Cricket Analyst