Smith fights a lone battle

2009-09-28 00:00

GRAEME Smith fought a lone battle as the Proteas were bundled out of the Champions Trophy by a resurgent England with a 22-run defeat last night.

Smith’s 141, which ended with him barely able to walk, should have been enough, but the South African middle-order never turned up to the party.

“Obviously it is hugely disappointing to be out at this stage of the tournament, but credit for the way England played,” Smith lamented.

That Smith registered his highest score in ODI’s will be cold comfort this morning, as he laments how such a talented outfit let itself down yet again in a major tournament.

England started brightly, with Andrew Strauss winning the toss and then dispatching some loose stuff from Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell up front. Indeed, the first wicket came as a bit of a surprise, as Joe Denly couldn’t decide whether to hit a Jacques Kallis long-hop for six or four. In the end, he did neither, instead picking out JP Duminy at deep square leg.

Strauss then fell to the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, Parnell, with the help of a fantastic pouch from Mark Boucher.

But that only brought together the in-form Paul Collingwood and the dangerous Owais Shah, and neither of them disappointed.

Shah’s 98 off just 89 balls was breath-taking at times, as he clubbed six sixes into a packed Centurion crowd. His unorthodox range of strokes bamboozled Smith at times, as he rang the bowling changes to no avail.

Collingwood, meanwhile, chipped away on the other end as England took control of proceedings.

Their third wicket stand finally totalle­d 163 off 161 balls, and was finall­y broken when Shah tickled one on to his pad off Johan Botha and Boucher gratefully clung on.

Collingwood looked set to reach three figures until he dragged on a wide ball from Parnell to depart for an elegant 82.

If Smith was hoping for some respite, none was forthcoming as Eoin Morgan used more than just the luck of the Irish to motor himself to 67 off just 34 balls. That last injection of power saw England rack up an intimidating 323 for 8, leaving the ball squarely in Smith’s court.

The Proteas’ colossus, a man who thrives on big occasions, seemed to have found a willing ally in the colourful Herschelle Gibbs.

As has been his wont, however, Gibbs flattered to deceive as he struck a few promising blows before falling limply to an ill-judged pull shot.

Jacques Kallis contrived to produce a replica of Denly’s dismissal, as he picked out the England opener perfectly with a nothing shot.

AB de Villiers and Duminy chipped in with 36 and 24 respectively, as Smith willed his way to the century the occasion demanded.

His ton, off 104 balls, contained its fair share of luck, as stand-in keeper Morgan missed a tough stumping chance before Shah shelled an absolute dolly with Smith on 82.

Boucher came and went, before Albie Morkel strode to the crease with 59 balls remaining. He clubbed a six and a four to greet the last, crucial batting powerplay before being run out by the keeper’s throw. At 255 for 6, with 69 needed off 29 balls, the Proteas were barely hanging on.

Johan Botha and Roelof van der Merwe came and went, before Smith finally holed out for an epic 141, limping off with the look of a man who had just been stood up at the altar.

“We had one guy bat through, but it was a pity that we could not get that last partnership needed at the back end,” Smith said.

“If it had been 310 or so, we would have cruised it, but 324 was just a bit too far.”

The inevitable “c-word” will resurface, and for once Smith didn’t even offer an excuse. South Africa were just not good enough.

Scoreboard

England

A. Strauss c Boucher b Parnell25

J. Denly c Duminy b Kallis21

O. Shah c Boucher b Botha98

P. Collingwood b Parnell82

E. Morgan c Smith b Steyn67

L. Wright run out8

R. Bopara c Morkel b Botha1

S. Broad b Parnell0

G. Swann not out8

J. Anderson not out2

Extras (b-1, lb-4, w-5, nb-1)11

Total (for 8; 50 overs) 323

Fall of wickets: 1-48 2-59 3-222 4-262 5-291 6-295 7-297 8-320.

Bowling: Steyn 10-0-59-1 (1w), Parnell 10-2-60-3, Kallis

3-0-14-1 (1w), Morkel 6-0-45-0 (1w, 1nb), Van der Merwe 9-0-67-0 (2w), Botha 9-0-56-2, Duminy 3-0-17-0.

South Africa

G. Smith c Shah b Broad141

H. Gibbs c Wright b Anderson22

J. Kallis c Denly b Broad12

AB de Villiers c Denly b Collingwood36

J-P Duminy b Swann24

M. Boucher b Anderson8

A. Morkel run out17

J. Botha c Onions b Broad0

R. van der Merwe b Anderson0

W. Parnell not out10

D. Steyn not out17

Extras (lb-8, w-5, nb-1)14

Total (for 9; 50 overs)301

Fall of wickets: 1-42 2-64 3-142 4-206 5-230 6-255 7-255 8-263 9-274.

Bowling: Anderson 10-0-42-3 (4w, 1nb), Onions 7-0-52-0,

Broad 10-0-67-3 (1w), Wright 5-0-31-0, Collingwood 10-0-58-1, Swann 8-0-43-1

Result: England won by 22 runs

Today: Australia v India (Centurion, 2.30 pm – live on SuperSport 2) — Sapa.

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