South Africa are facing their worst ever series defeat in One Day Cricket after they lost the fourth Natwest ODI as well. In a stop-and-start match at Lord’s, England eased through a revised target of 137 from 20 overs to inch closer to a 5-0 clean sweep. The final ODI is on the 3rd of next month which gives just about enough time for the Proteas to recharge their batteries and avoid the humiliation.
England did the right thing in deciding to field first in order to know exactly what they were going to chase whenever there was a rain intervention. The Proteas had a solid start through makeshift opener Hashim Amla (34 from 31 with 8 fours) and Herschelle Gibbs, who scored 74 from 75 balls with 9 fours. But the rest of the batting failed to complement the 66-run opening stand and the visitors were forced to settle for 183 for 6 in 32.1 overs before rain brought an abrupt end to their innings. Flintoff’s 3 for 21 in 7 overs provided the brakes to the Proteas.
The hosts found themselves in some early trouble when they lost openers Prior and Bell cheaply. But their target was not going to be difficult at all. It needed one good partnership to get the revised target of 137 and it was an ODI that literally got converted into a Twenty20 match! Owais Shah and Kevin Pietersen not only repaired the early damages but also went onto put their side in a winning position through their 74-run stand. Pietersen made 40 from 34 balls with 5 fours and a six and his exit brought in Freddie Flintoff, who finished the match in a hurry with a 12-ball 31 that had 5 fours and a six. Owais Shah smartly remained unbeaten with 44 from 40 balls with 4 fours and a six. England got to the target with 14 balls to spare. For his all round efforts, the Man of the Match went to Andrew Flintoff.