England skipper Eoin Morgan reaffirmed his side’s commitment to aggressive batting despite a cavalier approach proving their downfall in the decisive one-day clash against South Africa in Cape Town.
Set a victory target of 237, the Proteas were wobbling at 22-3 before skipper AB de Villiers shared 125 with Hashim Amla, on his way to a 24th ODI century as South Africa won by five wickets with six overs to spare.
Opener Alex Hales had earlier held together England’s fragmented innings by turning a fifth successive half-century into a composed ton, although his efforts proved in vain as his team-mates floundered, with nobody surpassing 30.
Victory meant South Africa are one of only two teams to have recovered from a 2-0 deficit to win a five-match series, the first being Bangladesh against Pakistan 11 years ago.
“We want to get to a stage where we can play as aggressive as we can but also play smart cricket,” said Morgan, whose charges have adopted an offensive style since last year’s disastrous World Cup campaign.
“We’d rather err on the side of aggression than the opposite because when we’ve done that in the past we’ve fallen short.
“Anything above 250 we would have been in the game, but getting past AB [de Villiers] is a different challenge. South Africa’s batting is similar to ours, but getting past the experienced pair is completely new to us.
“It’s disappointing to lose the series, but there were some exceptional individual performances. We’re proud, but ultimately it’s disappointing.”
The tourists’ batsmen failed to support Hales, who became the first Englishman to amass five consecutive half-centuries in the same series, as Morgan’s side lost their last seven wickets for just 81 runs.
All-rounder Ben Stokes was the second-highest scorer with 29, as a series of wayward strokes blighted England, who were dismissed for 236 with five overs to spare, as Kagiso Rabada, David Wiese and Imran Tahir snared three wickets apiece.
No side has ever chased down 257 to win at Cape Town but three wickets from left-arm seamer Reece Topley reduced the hosts to 22-3, before de Villiers combined with Amla, who struck 59, while Wiese finished unbeaten on 41.