South Africa’s late push for automatic qualification to the 2023 Men’s Cricket World Cup in India received a significant boost on Sunday after their incredible run-chase in Bloemfontein in the second ODI against England, which saw them win by five wickets. A century from skipper Temba Bavuma (109 off 102 balls) laid the platform for South Africa’s third-highest successful ODI run-chase on Sunday as they gained an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match bilateral series against England.
Bavuma’s second ODI ton was followed by valuable contributions from the middle order during the 343-run chase, including an unbeaten 65-run stand for the sixth wicket between David Miller (58*) and Marco Jansen (32*). The hosts chased down the total with five balls to go. Every batter from the top seven crossed 25 as South Africa recorded a stunning win to give their aspirations of automatic qualification to the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 a boost.
Aiden Markram (49), Rassie van der Dussen (38) also played some solid innings. Olly Stone (2/48) was the pick of the bowlers for England. Spinner Adil Rashid also got two wickets but gave away 72 runs in his 10 overs. Sam Curran got one wicket. Earlier, put to bat first by South Africa, England put up a total of 342/7 in 50 overs. After the top three consisting of Jason Roy, Dawid Malan and Ben Duckett disappointed, Harry Brook (80 off 75 balls), skipper Jos Buttler (94* off 81 balls) and all-rounder Moeen Ali (51 off 45 balls) helped bring England back into the game.
Anrich Nortje (2/64) was the pick of the bowlers for SA. Wayne Parnell, Lungi Ngidi, Marco Jansen, Aiden Markram and Keshav Maharaj took a wicket each. Bavuma was given the ‘Man of the Match’ for his brilliant ton.
South Africa did their chances of qualifying directly some harm when they withdrew from a scheduled ODI series in Australia earlier this year but back-to-back wins in this series have given the Proteas hope of avoiding the tricky qualifiers in Zimbabwe in June. They have 79 points from 18 completed ODIs in the Cricket World Cup Super League and have leapfrogged Ireland and Sri Lanka in the standings with these two wins.
They are still at No. 9 though, and only the top eight teams automatically make it to India for the tournament later this year. What works in their favour of them is that West Indies, who are placed ahead of them, have completed their Super League fixtures and cannot move up the table.
One win would help the Proteas go past the West Indies in the standings. South Africa has one more match left in this series against England, before a further two games against the Netherlands at the end of March and the start of April. They still have the threat of Sri Lanka going past them to the top eight. Sri Lanka will play three ODIs against New Zealand in New Zealand in March and are currently on 77 points.
The maximum number of points Sri Lanka can accumulate is 107, if they win all three ODIs against the Kiwis. If South Africa wins each of their last three ODIs, they are assured of automatic qualification. All they need to ensure is that they win as many ODIs, if not more, than Sri Lanka in the next two months with both teams set to play three remaining matches in the Super League.