Saturday, August 25, 2012
The first ODI between England and South Africa at the Sophia Gardens, Cardiff has been abandoned due to incessant rains.
The forecast from the beginning was not very promising for this ODI but at the starting time there was no rain. The toss happened on time and owing to the overcast conditions, AB de Villiers had no hesitation in putting the opposition in. South Africa opted to rest Dale Steyn and also gave an international debut to the middle-order batsman, Dean Elgar. England, on the other hand, brought in Chris Woakes in place of Stuart Broad, who has been rested for this ODI series.
But soon after the toss, it started to rain and we have to wait for a long time before it eased off. The groundsmen did a commendable job to get the field ready and finally the match got underway after a long delay. The drama didn’t end there as just after a ball was bowled, the rain returned.
Once it cleared, the ODI was reduced to a 23-over per side match. England batted watchfully initially but then the pair of Alastair Cook and Ian Bell stepped on the accelerator. They targeted both Morne Morkel and the world number one ODI bowler, Lonwabo Tsotsobe as the African attack looked weak without Dale Steyn. With the scorecard reading 37/0 in 5.3 overs bowled, the heavens opened up again.
It was a heavy downpour after that and the umpires had no other options but to call it off eventually. All the hard work put in by the groundsmen went in vain as the rain gods had the last laugh.
The second ODI will be played on the 28th of August at the Rose Bowl, Southampton and I am afraid to inform that there are rain predictions for that match as well.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
The Proteas overcame a late English scare to win the third and final Test by 51 runs thereby clinching the series 2-0 and displacing the hosts from the No.1 spot.
The battle for the number 1 Test spot was going down to the wire with the Proteas raging ahead. England needed nothing less than a win in this game to retain their numero uno spot and had lots of distractions, not to mention, that of dropping Kevin Pietersen being the most prime among them. A confident Protea skipper Graeme Smith won the toss and opted to bat under what seemed like sunny conditions, but when his side came out, they were greeted by heavy dark clouds.
A determined English side led by Andrew Strauss, who was playing his 100th Test and his 50th as captain, set to their task. They bowled a nagging line and length and it paid dividends as South Africa stuttered to 54/4 within the first two hours of the match. AB de Villiers and Jacques Rudolph started to fight back and so did the rest of the middle order but England kept on picking up wickets.
The Proteas were losing their way and scraped to 309 all out, thanks mainly to Vernon Philander who made a career-best 61. Even JP Duminy made the same sore but Philander had a better Batting Momentum of 89. Steven Finn was the man on the charge as he picked up 4 wickets and a subsequent Bowling Efficiency of 193.
England followed a similar pattern to that of their counterparts, losing four wickets pretty quickly, at the same score, 54. They too, fought back, in the form of a 124-run stand between Ian Bell and young Jonathan Bairstow. Bell departed but the lower order hung around Bairstow who fell heart-stoppingly 5 short of his maiden Test ton.
Bairstow finished with a Batting Momentum of 151 as he took England past the African total, gaining a lead of 6 runs. For South Africa, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn picked up 4 wickets each with the latter gaining a Bowling Efficiency of 118. England attained a lead of 6 runs as they were bowled out for 315. In reply, South Africa got off to a solid start as the openers, Smith and Petersen, added 46 runs. Broad got the first breakthrough and they would have been on top had Matt Prior managed to hold on to a tough caught behind chance of Amla, when on just 2. But Smith departed soon after. Amla and Kallis started the resurrection process and added 81 for the 3rd wicket. Kallis departed late on day 3 but Amla continued his juggernaut and brought up his 16th Test century on day 4.
Steven Finn then wrecked havoc with the new ball in the post-lunch session on day four as he removed three quick wickets including that of Amla but JP Duminy and Philander’s crucial 54-run stand for the 8th wicket meant that the Proteas were well past the 300-run lead. They were finally bowled out for 351 setting up a target of 346 for the hosts. Amla played a sublime innings of 121 and received the highest Batting Momentum of the innings, 193. Finn was the pick of the bowlers for England as he ended with figures of 4/74 and a best Bowling Efficiency of 213.
England were facing the toughest test of their lives as they were set a target of 346. Their highest successful fourth innings run chase was 332-7, way back against Australia in 1928-29. But they got off to a horrific start as Philander swung the new ball viciously and removed both the openers, Cook and Strauss within first four overs. Trott and Bell somehow managed to save their wickets as the hosts ended day 4 on 16/2, still requiring 330 runs to win. They got off to a poor start on day 5 as Bell departed early and a some poor running between the wickets meant that James Taylor was run out and England were reeling at 45/4. Bairstow and Trott started the resurrection and added 89 runs for the 5th wicket.
Click here to view the scorecard
But post lunch, South Africa managed to pick three crucial wickets of Bairstow, Trott and Broad as England scored 101 runs in the session. After tea, England required 125 runs to win and it was Prior who took the attack to the South Africans as he played some blistering strokes and added 74 runs with Graeme Swann for the 8th wicket to keep England in the hunt. He was caught at point off a no ball and survived a run out but then Swann was run out at a crucial juncture when on 41 and then the man of the moment, Vernon Philander was called on to bowl with the new ball. He continued his golden run and had Prior caught at slip and then the very next ball he had the last man, Steven Finn caught in slips to power South Africa to a 51-run victory and a 2-0 series win. The win means that South Africa top the Test ranking charts, displacing England. Prior and Bairstow finished with decent Batting Momentums of 67 and 68 respectively, Philander, who scalped his 7th five-wicket haul, ended up with the best Bowling Efficiency in the innings, 169.
Both the teams played their hearts out and ended up level on 256 points on the Castrol Index. Steven Finn bowled brilliantly and picked up 8 wickets in the match to end up as the Castrol Index topper with 208 points. Vernon Philander was named the Man of the Match and ended up with 170 points on the Castrol Index.
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