Jos Buttler smashed 105 as England set South Africa a target of 400 for victory in the first ODI in Bloemfontein.
South Africa have it all to do in the second innings of this fixture. While the hosts boast some of the world’s best batsmen in AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla, as well as some of its biggest hitters in Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw, they will be hard-pressed to eclipse England’s 399, a record score in ODIs at the Mangaung Oval.
The Proteas may come to regret their wayward bowling effort. Expectations were tempered when Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott were all ruled out of this fixture. The decision to rest Kagiso Rabada, South Africa’s standout performer in the recent Test series, was always going to dilute the bowling unit’s potency. And yet, the effort of the chosen bowlers was unacceptably poor. They lacked consistency and aggression and were duly punished.
That said, take nothing away from the England batsmen. The platform was set by the opening pair of Jason Roy and Alex Hales. Roy started the fire with a terrific knock of 48 off 30 balls. Hales took some time to settle, but made a valuable contribution of 57. Joe Root played the anchor role for the visitors, his 52 coming off 58 balls. Few risks were taken in the early stages of the innings.
Buttler was promoted up the order, and proceeded to transform the fire into a blaze. The beginning of his innings was characterised by some innovative and effective strokes. He scored at a brisk rate throughout (Buttler reached his century off just 73 balls), but was especially effective against a couple of bowlers. Buttler hit JP Duminy for several big sixes. In the 24th over, he dispatched the hapless Farhaan Behardien for three consecutive fours.
Duminy and Behardien were not the only bowlers who struggled. Morné Morkel finished his allotted 10 overs with figures of 1-70. Chris Morris claimed three wickets, but disappointed with full tosses, long hops, and even the odd beamer over the course of his 10. Marchant de Lange bowled quickly, but with very little control.
England paced their innings brilliantly. They maintained the pressure on the Proteas throughout, even in the periods that followed a wicket.
Behardien dismissed Buttler in the 43rd over. Even then, England continued to press on. Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali put on 54 off just 25 balls for the sixth wicket. From there, the remaining batsmen did enough to finish in the region of 400.
England 399-9 in 50 overs – Jos Buttler 105, Ben Stokes 57, Alex Hales 57, Chris Morris 3-74
South Africa need 400 runs to win
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