After two victories in Bloemfontein, South Africa already has a 2-0 advantage over England, and the visitors are trying to prevent a second straight series whitewash in Kimberley on Wednesday.
But given that the series started only a few days after England won the T20 World Cup and that a top XI is rarely used, a 3-0 rout of Australia in November last year was nearly a foregone conclusion.
Even though Moeen Ali acknowledged that the losing streak is far from ideal, the all-rounder pointed out that England has a history of performing well under pressure and believes these experiences will make them stronger.
Since the disastrous 2015 World Cup, England has led the way in white-ball competition, culminating in them winning their first 50-over championship four years later. However, Moeen believes that other teams have caught up.
On Sunday, Moeen reached his first half-century in 46 innings (dating back to September 2017), aiding England in reaching 342 for 7, a total they exceeded with five wickets and a few balls remaining.
He frequently enters the batting order lower and must launch an attack from ball one, which increases his vulnerability.
However, with Liam Livingstone and Will Jacks and other spin-bowling all-rounders providing alternatives, Moeen’s 51 off 45 deliveries, which contained six fours and one six, was particularly useful.
Despite having a lifetime ODI bowling average of 50.01, Moeen mostly gives control and complements fellow spinner Adil Rashid, who is seen as more of a danger to take wickets.
The drawbacks of bowling spin in this format, particularly with fielding limits, were openly acknowledged by Moeen, who also revealed that he does not really enjoy being called upon by skipper Jos Buttler.
“There is no panic in the changing room. We know with the World Cup coming up it is about getting the right team together. It’s about not getting too down, we want to peak at the right time”, Moeen Ali said.
“We know we have to start winning because winning is a habit. You obviously want to be winning but you don’t want to win all your games now and when it comes to the crunch, lose.
“Results don’t show it yet but I genuinely believe we will be better than we were (in 2019). More experience, used to different conditions and going to India where we’ve played a lot of IPL.
“Come the crunch time, what really matters is pressure and how you handle the pressure. We have been in that situation many times and we can hopefully do it again.”
“I think that’s what it is. Other teams are playing the way we have. Look at India and New Zealand. South Africa are a brilliant side, they are right up there with one of the best. We know how we want to play, I think we will play like that forever,” he said.
“It’s not easy. I’m not a powerful guy. But I need to give myself that time and that’s something I need to really trust and sometimes I do panic.
“I don’t trust my own game at times because I see the boundaries and then I feel like they’re really big at times, but I’ll hit one and I’m OK. (On Sunday) I hit six and thought ‘I’m all right now’.
“It proved to myself that actually if I give myself a bit of time I can catch up and I’m the type of player that can score quickly at times.”
“Do you want my honest opinion?,” he said when asked if he likes 50-over cricket. “I like batting. I hate bowling. I actually think it’s quite unfair for spinners.
“Obviously we have to get better but a lot of the time you can only bowl straight. As soon as you give a bit of width, it’s four on good wickets, so I don’t like bowling and fielding for 50 overs.”