Pietersen ton in vain as England go down fighting against Proteas

Associated Press

East London, February 10:

South Africa overcame Kevin Pietersen’s century, the fastest one-day hundred by an England batsman, to win the fifth one-dayer by seven runs and take a 3-1 lead in the seven-match series. Pietersen reached 100 in 104 minutes off 69 balls, hitting the plateau with his fourth six to add to his seven fours. After Pietersen walked to the crease in the 27th over, England appeared that it might catch South Africa’s 311 for seven. Michael Vaughan contributed 70 to England’s 301 for eight.

South Africa captain Graeme Smith won the toss, elected to bat and scored an unbeaten 115 while Justin Kemp hit 80 to guide the team to its highest one-day score against England.

It was Smith’s second one-day century, and second of the series. He reached the mark off 120 balls, and, by the time the innings closed, he had batted through and scored just seven boundaries. After losing fellow opener AB de Villiers for two, Smith and Jacques Kallis took the score to 100-2 before Kallis was claimed by Kabir Ali.

Kallis hit five fours off Ali’s first over, but Ali came back to dismiss Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs (8) in quick succession and finished with 2-66 off nine overs.

After a useful contribution from Ashwell Prince (34), Kemp joined Smith at 181-4, and led South Africa’s charge. His 80 came off just 50 balls as he hit seven sixes and four fours over the final 10 overs.

Only Darren Gough was able somewhat blunt South Africa’s push, finishing with 3-52 from his 10 overs, including the wickets of Kemp and Mark Boucher in successive balls in his final over. England’s batting was hamstrung by another poor start by the opening pair of Marcus Trescothick and Geraint Jones. They both battled to score off Shaun Pollock, and Trescothick fell for four to the South African opening bowler, worsening England’s chances.

Pietersen marshaled the tail-enders around him, but saw repeated wickets fall in an increasingly frantic chase. He was severe on all the bowlers, but Kallis appeared to be the most effective against him, finishing as South Africa’s best with two for 62.