Morris makes England pay as Root’s century proves in vain
By Nick Hoult
Fourth ODI ENGLAND had a one-day series win in their grasp only for it to slip through the fingers of Adil Rashid, who dropped South Africa’s million-dollar man, Chris Morris, with his team on the brink of an historic victory. Morris was on 14 and South Africa were sinking fast at the Wanderers when the South African allrounder heaved Reece Topley high into the Johannesburg night sky. Rashid ran around from mid-off and gathered himself under the ball with England anticipating the catch that would almost certainly have sealed a Test and one-day series double over South Africa, the first time they would have managed that in this country. Rashid momentarily had the ball in his hands before dropping it as he tumbled to the floor. It was arguably the easiest of the four chances England missed on the night and it gifted Morris a second opportunity that he took with style. He went on to lift the roof off the Bullring, smashing four sixes in his career-best 62 off 38 balls that took South Africa to a one-wicket win with 16 balls to spare. There was huge surprise when Morris, who had a previous ODI best of 12, was sold in the IPL auction for $1 million but this was a priceless innings for his team, levelling the series. If Rashid had held on to the catch South Africa would have been 210 for nine and 53 runs from home with the No11 Imran Tahir, a genuine last man, to come. Game over, series in the bag. But instead the efforts of Rashid’s fellow Yorkshireman, Joe Root, were in vain as Morris walloped South Africa home. It is a defeat that will infuriate the coach, Trevor Bayliss, who hammers into his players the importance of fielding. Until Morris’s late show Root had been the only batsman to master the conditions, just as he did in the Test match three weeks before. His second successive one-day hundred stood out in a low-scoring contest that defied predictions of a six-hitting spectacular. Instead runs were accumulated rather than blasted with Root holding England together at 108 for six and taking them to a defendable total. This was Root’s eighth one-day hundred, drawing him level with Graham Gooch in joint third place on England’s list of all-time century scorers behind Kevin Pietersen in second place with nine. Root batted with the determination of Gooch if not the flair of Pietersen as he marshalled England’s recovery. The lower order managed to more than double the score with Chris Woakes ably supporting Root in a 95-run stand. Rashid crashed some late runs but England were bowled out with two overs to spare. England were beaten by seven wickets in the third ODI as Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla’s centuries cancelled out Joe Root’s, and reduced South Africa’s series deficit to 2-1. Root’s 125 helped England post 318 for eight at Centurion, but openers De Kock (135) and Amla (127) put on 239 as South Africa won with almost four overs to spare.