reports from Cape Town
South Africa 211-8 England 205 (South Africa win by 6 runs)
South Africa made another little piece of history yesterday when they beat England in a one-day international for the first time.
The constantly chewed nails of both sets of supporters were an accurate testament of how much this game ebbed and flowed before finally going South Africa's way by six runs.
In the end, it was Craig Matthews' fingertip catch to remove Graham Thorpe that probably settled the match, although Shaun Pollock's thrilling all- round performance of 66 runs and 4 for 34 deservedly made him the man of the match.
It was a staunch effort by Thorpe, who hit only two boundaries in his 62. It was his unnecessary attempt to procure a third that cost him his wicket and England's last chance of the game with 13 runs wanted from as many balls.
Unlike England, South Africa tried to bowl maidens and apply the dripping- tap style of pressure, at least until Allan Donald came on as first change and removed England's top three batsmen in a fearsome six-over spell of blistering pace.
Coming into the attack after England had posted their first 50 off only 78 balls, Donald quickly had Alec Stewart beaten for pace, given lbw groping down the wrong line for a ball that might have been missing leg stump.
It was that wide angle of delivery that undid Michael Atherton, who lost his off stump as the ball held up just enough off the seam to make any adjustment with the bat impossible. When Graeme Hick followed after a brief violent flurry that saw him take 11 off Adams's first over, England were 94 for 3 and the match evenly poised.
England needed to rally and who better to oversee it than their plucky left-handers, Thorpe and Neil Fairbrother, who combined to add 61, before Fairbrother was caught by Adams at mid-on trying to hit Pollock back over his head.
White soon departed, chipping a return catch into Pollock's hands. Dermot Reeve did not last long either as England began to wobble. He had scored two, but on his fourth ball he was caught by Richardson, diving low down to his right.
With 44 wanted from the final 10 overs, England would have been favourites but for the departure of Dominic Cork, run out attempting a suicidal single to leave England teetering on 177 for 7. Neil Smith was next to go, caught by Brian McMillan in the gully for three as he slashed wildly at a delivery from Pollock. England's hope of a dramatic recovery expired when Thorpe holed out.
In contrast to England's more measured approach, South Africa began their innings by throwing the bat at anything off line and threw their wickets away just as regularly. Peter Martin, despite swinging the new ball, was lucky to pick up two wickets as both victims did well to reach the ball, let alone edge it to Stewart behind the stumps.
Cork also swung the white ball early on, claiming the first wicket, that of the left-hander Gary Kirsten, who got caught on the crease by one that swung into his pads.
By picking bowlers that do something, Atherton clearly believes the way to build pressure is to take early wickets. It can be risky but the England captain would have felt it worthwhile when Daryll Cullinan edged Reeve's slower ball to Stewart, to leave South Africa 57 for 4.
Things did not improve for the home side when Jonty Rhodes gave Stewart his fourth catch of the innings. When Hansie Cronje followed, run out after Thorpe had dived, stopped the ball and thrown it to the bowler's end from deep cover, South Africa, having limped to 107 for 6 from 31 overs, were on the verge of collapse.
The England bowling had been steady rather than spectacular and was soon put into perspective by two young men making their one-day debuts. …