The result will say the Proteas came agonisingly close to beating England in the 2nd ODI in Southampton on Saturday but that’s actually misleading.
What this two-run defeat actually showed was that South Africa can’t hope to make much headway in next week’s ICC Champions Trophy if they waste the opportunities they did in this game.
As a result, they’re 2-0 behind and have already lost the three-match series.
Chasing a mammoth 331, the Proteas really should’ve completed a superb chase after they needed only seven from the last over.
That they got into that position was down to David Miller and Chris Morris, who attacked effectively in a sixth wicket partnership that produced 62 runs in just over six overs.
The left-handed Miller was classy in making his unbeaten 71 off 51 balls while his partner was powerful during his 36 off 22.
However, the pair seemed to try too much in the last over instead of keeping it simple.
And they paid the price as Mark Wood (0/48) kept his head well.
South Africa really should’ve won from that position.
At least Quinton de Kock returned to form with a fine, responsible 98 (103 balls) and found a good partner in captain AB de Villiers.
It was disappointing though that De Villiers’ 52 off 50 wasn’t converted into a bigger score.
The Proteas’ batting might’ve fired but the real reason for this loss was ordinary bowling and, in particular, the fielding.
They dropped an astonishing five catches, which is simply not good enough at this level.
England’s superstar all-rounder Ben Stokes was the biggest beneficiary of that.
The dashing left-hander got a thick edge from his first delivery of the luckless Keshav Maharaj (1/72), which Hashim Amla missed completely at slip.
To rub salt in the wound, Stokes edged the very next ball too but De Kock dropped the chance.
He duly punished the South Africans, galloping to a magnificent 101 off 79 deliveries.
The Proteas also lost control in the latter part of the innings as Jos Buttler whacked a powerful, unbeaten 65.
Kagiso Rabada (2/50) was the only bowler to shine and he adapted well at the death.
His fast yorker to dismiss opener Jason Roy was particularly memorable.
But South Africa urgently need to revisit the strategy of picking three all-rounder as none of them – Andile Phehlukwayo (1/74), Morris (0/66) and Dwaine Pretorius (0/61) – made an impact with the ball.