Morris ensures South Africa continue unbeaten streak in 'Pink' ODIs

Johannesburg: The South African team has never lost an ODI while decked in pink and they continued their winning ways, this time against England, at the Wanderers on Friday thanks to a brilliant rear-guard action by all-rounder Chris Morris.

Morris' 62 off 38 balls saw the Proteas come back from the dead to win by one wicket in the fourth ODI to set up a series decider in Cape Town on Sunday.

South African batsman Christopher Morris celebrates after scoring half century (50 runs) during the fourth One Day International (ODI) cricket match between England and South Africa at Wanderers in Johannesburg. Pic/AFP
South African batsman Christopher Morris celebrates after scoring half century (50 runs) during the fourth One Day International (ODI) cricket match between England and South Africa at Wanderers in Johannesburg. Pic/AFP

The Proteas had won the last three ODIs played at the Wanderers, which were all played in pink, and continued with that trend on Friday as they leveled the five-match series 2-2.

England, on the other hand, will rue the missed opportunity to win the series at Johannesburg, especially after Joe Root hit his second successive century, but as luck would have it he again finished on the losing side.

Man-of-the-match Morris, dropped on 14 when South Africa were eight down and still 52 runs short of victory, slammed 62 off 38 balls.

Adil Rashid, the man who dropped Morris -- a straightforward chance at mid-off from the bowling of Reece Topley -- was brought on to bowl with the scores level and bowled Morris with a googly.

But last-man Imran Tahir punched the next ball square for the winning boundary.

England captain Eoin Morgan rued three dropped catches -- JP Duminy and AB de Villiers were dropped before Morris's escape -- and some missed run-out opportunities, but praised Root and the England bowlers.

"At the halfway stage it was South Africa's game to lose," said Morgan.

"We pegged it back with some great bowling but we had chances in the field and that's disappointing."

That the match went so deep seemed unlikely when England were floundering at 108 for six after being sent in to bat.

But Root made 109 and steered England to a total of 262.

"We had an opportunity to bowl them out for 150 but we thought 260 was very chaseable," said de Villiers. "We didn't need a nine-downer but what a fantastic game."

Batting at number eight, Chris Woakes scored 33 and helped Root put on 95 for the seventh wicket.

Woakes followed up by bowling Faf du Plessis and running out de Villiers, South Africa's star batsman, with a superb piece of fielding off his own bowling.

Stuart Broad was brought in to strengthen what had proved an ineffectual bowling attack in Centurion and bowled Centurion century-maker Hashim Amla for nought in the first over of the South African innings.

The rest of Broad's match was less successful, although he had de Villiers dropped on nine off the first ball of his second spell, with Jason Roy diving far to his right but failing to hold on to a fiercely-struck cut.

De Villiers immediately went on the attack, hitting Broad's next two balls for four and six.

He hurried to 36 off 27 balls and was threatening to swing the match back in South Africa's favour when Duminy pushed a ball from Woakes to leg and called for a quick single.

Woakes reacted instantly, getting to the ball quickly and hitting the stumps at the batsman's end with an underarm throw.

Broad was brought back late in the match but was hit for 6, 4, 4 by a rampant Morris.

No South African batsman was able to score more than Farhaan Behardien's 38 until Morris took full advantage of his let-off, hitting three sixes and four fours.

"Luckily they dropped me and I thought, this is a chance to play cricket for your country, when it's in your arc you can hit it," said Morris.

Leg-spinner Tahir took three wickets in seven balls to spark an England collapse after Root and Alex Hales (50) had taken the tourists to 87 for one.

Seamer Abbott followed up with two wickets in successive overs to plunge England into disarray.

Root, who made a career-best 125 in a losing cause at Centurion, reached his eighth one-day international century off 119 balls and faced a total of 124 deliveries, hitting 10 fours and a six.

Hales made his fourth half-century in as many innings before he was caught on the midwicket boundary off Tahir after putting on 69 for the second wicket with Root.

Adil Rashid hit a rapid 39 off 26 balls before he was last man out.

Kagiso Rabada took four for 45, while Tahir claimed three for 46. It was the first time in the series that a team was bowled out.

England's butter fingers cost them the match

Morris should have been the ninth man out for 14 when he sent a simple catch up to Adil Rashid at mid-off, but the Yorkshire leggie dropped it and the all rounder made him pay in the most painful way of all.

Instead of trudging back with 52 still needed to win, Morris began batting as if he were AB de Villiers, Viv Richards and Kevin Pietersen rolled into one to take his team to a one-wicket win and a decider in Cape Town. No wonder the Delhi Daredevils parted with $1 million to secure his services in the IPL.

It was an extraordinary innings that brought England to their knees after they had done so well to get into a winning position.

"It is disappointing to lose, but we had a lot of chances to win the game and we probably should have won the game," said skipper Eoin Morgan. "I don't know why those chances were dropped. There were three of them that went down and they were all significant, but people make mistakes.

"At the halfway stage it was South Africa's to lose, but we managed to peg it back with some decent bowling. The game ebbed and flowed, but ultimately it was our game to win."

In truth South Africa made heavier work than they should have of chasing down England's 262 all out, but what will hurt coach Trevor Bayliss the most is that it was dropped catches that cost his side after Root had done so well to make a game of it from the low of 108-6.

Jason Roy dropping AB de Villiers at point when he had made just nine looked like it might cost England the game until Woakes ran him out brilliantly on his follow through.Ales Hales dropping JP Duminy at 2nd slip when he had made just one, also appeared costly until Rashid had him trapped lbw for 31.

England were just doing enough to keep their noses in front and when Farhaan Behardien fell to leave the score at 210-8, the game should have been put to bed.But with the noisey crowd jeering Rashid's drop and then cheering every strike from Morris' bat, they carried the home team to the win that sets up Sunday's decider in Cape Town. "When the catch went up I thought 'idiot' and my heart went through my bum," said Morris. "But it was my turn to get the benefit from a dropped catch and it was my night."

Proteas maintain 'pink' record

The Proteas had before Friday set up scores in excess of 300 in all the pink ODIs, including the record-breaking performance against the West Indies in 2015 where AB de Villiers smashed the fastest ODI century in 31 balls. Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock have shared five centuries between them in those games with the Proteas managing totals of 343, 358 and 439. 

The three previous times when Proteas played in Pink

South Africa v Pakistan
South Africa won by 34 runs
Played at New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
March 17, 2013

South Africa v India
South Africa won by 141 runs
Played at New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
December 5, 2013

South Africa v West Indies
South Africa won by 148 runs
Played at New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
January 18, 2015

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