|Ground:||Trent Bridge, Nottingham|
|Scorecard:||England v South Africa|
|Event:||South Africa in England 2012|
England v South Africa, 5th ODI, 05 September 2012
By courtesy of NatWest.
Nottingham Having seen South Africa's cricket in England this summer, it would be unthinkable that they could lose a series in any form of the game against an England side that has struggled all along. So just when England took a 2-1 lead in the One-Day International (ODI) series after the thrashing handed out to them in the Tests, South Africa, led by the irrepressible Hashim Amla, hit back with a seven-wicket win to end the series all square.
England retain their No. 1 ODI rank by virtue of previous consistency as they have won 12 of their last 14 ODI's this year and have 121 points on the ranking's table, the same as South Africa with India just a point behind. But after their poor performance in the most recent matches they will do well to be able to hold on to their elevated position. They set the opposition a modest target of 183 to win the fifth match (the first was rain-abandoned) after a totally listless effort with the bat which handed South Africa the initiative, on a fair albeit slow pitch.
England captain Alastair Cook said: "It was very frustrating with a series to be won and I dont think I have played in a match with so many soft dismissals. Pretty much all of us from one to eleven played some poor shots and I dont know why." South Africa's run chase began unusually poorly losing three wickets for 14 with James Anderson moving the ball with fine control and sending back Faf du Plessis and Dean Elgar for 3 and 1 respectively after Graeme Smith had gone for 1, caught off Jade Dernbach.
Although England did well to take those wickets, the one that really mattered, as seen throughout the tour, is that of Amla. The South African, of Indian origin, was unflappable from the moment he opened the innings. He ensured that there were no further mishaps, forging an unbroken partnership of 172 with the captain AB de Villiers who found his form again with an unbeaten innings of 75 from 79 balls, including ten boundaries.
Amla has top scored for his side in every match and his second player-of-the-series award on this tour showed just how much he has dominated in both ODI's and Tests this summer. In the two forms of the game he has averaged 116.71 with 817 runs of which 335 have come in four ODI innings.
Once again he batted with great confidence against all bowlers, playing strokes fluently, using his feet against the spinners and punishing the pace attack with cuts and pulls when the ball dropped short and he drove with style. De Villiers, who reached his 29th ODI half century off 54 balls, matched Amla's stroke-play and showed perfect timing with his drives either side of the wicket.
In this final match Amla remained unbeaten with just three short of what would have been his eleventh ODI century and the second of the series following his magnificent 150 last week. With Amla in such majestic form South Africa's win was comfortably completed in just 34.3 overs with the master batsman, having faced 107 balls, clipping his ninth four to square leg. The Twenty20 series of three matches between the two sides begin this weekend.
Earlier, having decided to bat on winning the toss, England lost wickets at regular intervals to be reduced to 99 for five, halfway through their innings. Only Cook was in form, playing fluently for 51 from 72 balls, his thirteenth ODI half century. He has struggled for runs in this series with just 22 from three previous innings. He added 55 with Jonny Bairstow who scored 29 in their third wicket stand. The only other scores of note in the England innings of 182 were the 33 runs made by Craig Kieswetter and Chris Woakes.
Ravi Bopara, who is in the side as a genuine all-rounder has had a dreadful ODI series with the bat having scored 16, 0, 6 and 0 in the four matches. Along with him Eoin Morgan too went without scoring. He had been in form in this series averaging 68 from the previous three matches. With such poor batting the England innings folded with 4.4 overs still remaining.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)