South Africa take the series

A Herchelle Gibbs century coupled with rain saw South Africa ensure they’ll win the One Day series. With just 1 game to go, the Proteas lead 3-1 with the sensational tie and today’s rain-ruined game.

To be fair to England, they produced probably their best performance with the ball right from the start and will feel themselves unlucky to have not made Sunday’s final game a meaningful one.

Graeme Smith had won the toss and decided to bat, but Darren Gough and the recalled Alex Wharf had them in all sorts of trouble early on, as Wharf took the wickets of Smith and Jacques Kallis with the score on only 1 in the 4th over. That brought in Gibbs, and he proceeded to play a sensational innings in the circumstance to suggest that moving from the top of the order to number 4 has done nothing to diminish his batting.

Right from the start of his innings, he was in a dominant mood, as Adam Bacher, in for the so-far disappointing AB de Villiers, did his best to show he isn’t the right man to open for his side in a scratchy knock of 15 that spanned over an hour before being put out of his misery by Kabir Ali. By the time Bach fell, Gibbs had made his way into the 30s and was looking settled.

This continued when Ashwell Prince came into bat, although with Ashley Giles in a controlling mood runs were not coming too quickly (at one stage South Africa scored more than 40 runs from singles in a row) – the score was accumulating before a superb catch by Paul Collingwood gave Giles the well deserved wicket of Prince towards the end of his spell. The left armer conceded just 38 from his 10 overs, without once being hit to the boundary as England kept the pressure on.

Mark Boucher came in at 6 to protect the big-hitting Justin Kemp, and he played a typical innings in making his way almost un-noticed into the 20s without any real alarm. The partnership with Gibbs was 55 from 59 balls, and set the game up for the onslaught when Wharf collected his 3rd wicket by removing Boucher.

From 169-4, England fought back in style though, as the next 3 overs saw both Kemp and the dangerous Shaun Pollock fall for ducks to Darren Gough (whose first spell of 6 overs for 6 was immaculate) and Paul Collingwood (recalled by Michael Vaughan for 1 over only in order to complete the “part-timer” stint of 10) respectively.

That reduced the hosts to 180-7 when the rains came for the first time. The delay of almost 2 hours saw a reduction of only 2 overs per side thanks to some good ICC rules for this sort of situation.

This left South Africa 32 more balls, and they actually managed to score 31 runs in them, thanks mainly to an awful over from Ali immediately after the resumption, but they also lost all remaining wickets in that time, indeed ending up dismissed for 211 with 9 balls unbowled.

Then came an incidence of the ICC rules not being so good as there was a 25 minute break between innings, even though the 4 overs lost in the game so far could quite easily have been played with only a 10 minute break.

Duckworth Lewis also came into play, and set England 213 to win – a fair reflection on the situation when the rain had came.

As it happened, the rains wouldn’t allow a finalised game, only 16 balls being faced by the England batsmen before they returned. In that time, both Pollock and Makhaya Ntini struck to remove the openers Marcus Trescothick and Geraint Jones, but it was on the dismissal of Jones that rain had the final say, and in spite of a few checks to see if the minimum of 20 overs would be playable (in which case England would’ve needed 67-2 under D/L), there was no resumption and the hosts gained some revenge for the Test series by taking out the One Dayers.

Gibbs 118(133), Ali 3-44 (8.3), Wharf 3-48(9), Gough 2-14(9)

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