SA level the series
Amla and De Villiers ensure the series is split
Last Updated: 05/09/12 9:47pm
South Africa have beaten England in the final NatWest one-day international by seven wickets at Trent Bridge to level the series at two apiece.
England's 182 total never looked like applying the pressure on the tourists needed for the home side to take the series with bright spots coming from captain Alastair Cook (51) while Craig Kieswetter and Chris Woakes both scored 33 runs each.
South Africa's response got off to a poor start when they were reduced to 14-3, England aided by two wickets from James Anderson in removing both Faf du Plessis and Dean Elgar.
However, Hashim Amla (97 no) and AB de Villiers (75 no) steered South Africa home with a courtesy of an unbroken stand of 172, meaning a split of the series.
The hosts lost their first two wickets for the addition of one run, in the fourth and fifth overs, after choosing to bat on a glorious afternoon for this day-night fixture.
They made an encouraging start until Ian Bell missed a delivery that came on with the arm from Robin Peterson (3-37) and was lbw pushing forward, Kumar Dharmasena's decision confirmed after the batsman invoked DRS.
Ravi Bopara, pushed up to number three in the absence of the injured Jonathan Trott, is enduring a nightmare run of form.
His troubles continued when Dale Steyn pitched one in the ideal place and found just enough movement for Bopara to be caught behind for single figures for the third successive time in this series.
This was also his second duck in those three innings, and put added pressure on new batsman Jonny Bairstow - called up for his first one-day international cap since last October.
The young Yorkshireman fared well in a 55-run stand with Cook, until he became the first of three successive batsmen to fall to catches chipped unerringly straight into fielders' hands.
Bairstow picked out deep square-leg off Morne Morkel; Eoin Morgan hit his second delivery, from JP Duminy, to mid-on - where Amla had just been brought up five yards to save the single.
Then Cook, who had done so much of the hard work on his way to his first half-century in his last 10 Test and ODI innings, lost his famed concentration against Du Plessis' part-time leg-spin and pushed a low full toss back for a routine return catch.
It was an unsatisfactory end to his 72-ball stay, and a similar summary applied when Kieswetter mistimed an attempted big hit off Morkel and skied a catch to Amla again at mid-off.
After the wicketkeeper-batsman had gone in the powerplay, following back Nottinghamshire's own Samit Patel - who gloved a slower-ball bouncer from Steyn behind - England began what should have been the last 10 overs on an unpromising 165-7.
The tail then folded to Peterson, who took two wickets in two balls - and not even Woakes' career-best 33 not out could salvage much worthwhile before Dernbach was last out in just 45.2 overs.
The tourists' reply was almost immediately minus Graeme Smith and Du Plessis, the opener caught by a juggling James Tredwell at second slip off Dernbach and the out-of-form number three edging to the wicketkeeper off a rampant Anderson.
England's pace spearhead, on one of his favourite hunting grounds, struck for a second time when Dean Elgar edged behind to go for a tortured single after a hapless collection of plays and misses.
But the rush of wickets brought man-of-the-series Amla and captain De Villiers together early - and South Africa's most accomplished batsmen, ranked first and third in the world, soon put the struggles of England's batsmen into stark yet fair context.
Amla was marginally first to his 50, in 63 balls, but De Villiers got there more quickly - hitting eight fours from just 54 deliveries.
Once the fourth-wicket pair had ridden the storm against Anderson, they were never out of a canter in a decidedly one-sided contest.