Joe Root struck 125 as England posted 318-8 in the Proteas’ must-win match at Centurion on Tuesday.
It was a familiar sight for the Proteas when they lined up for the third ODI against England. They trailed their opponents 2-0 going into Centurion for the second time on this tour, but the difference this time was the Proteas had it all to play for, needing to win to stay alive in the five-match series.
They brought David Wiese into the side to bolster their bowling options, with Rilee Rossouw the unlucky man to miss out. England, who had the luxury of keeping an unchanged side for the third time in a row, won the toss and chose to have a bat on a surface that offered more runs than Port Elizabeth, even though AB de Villiers said he would have had a bowl anyway.
Jason Roy and Alex Hales started in typically brisk fashion before Roy brought about his own demise. A casual single to third man turned into a rushed two for no obvious reason, and he was run out by the slimmest of margins, departing for 20.
What then followed was a frustrating spell for the hosts, as Hales and Root plundered the runs, the brute force of the former and the finesse of the latter combining to great effect. Root was let off the hook on 44 as he offered a sharp, one-handed chance to De Kock’s right, which he couldn’t quite grab. Difficult chance or not, it proved costly, as the pair both brought up half-centuries.
Their 125-run stand finally came to an end when Hales skied one straight into the hands of Morne Morkel, to walk back for 65. Kagiso Rabada, the man to break the partnership, suddenly had a second scalp in three balls, as the dangerous Jos Buttler – moved up to No 4 to inject some venom into the run rate – was the recipient of a fine catch from JP Duminy at short leg for a golden duck.
The wickets brought about a slight dip in the run rate, and skipper Eoin Morgan felt the pressure, which he succumbed to as the hard-working Wiese forced a mistimed shot out of him, caught for a 24-ball eight.
Any chance of a collapse was stemmed thanks to Root and Ben Stokes, as Root cleared the fence with ease, before bringing up a seventh ODI century. A shambles in the middle eventually saw the end of Root for a career-best 125, but the damage had been done with a 54-ball 82-run stand.
England’s charge was abruptly halted from there, however, as the Proteas responded brilliantly at the death. Stokes notched up a brutal 33-ball fifty, but Moeen Ali departed the next ball for three, before Stokes and Chris Jordan both went in successive deliveries, all three of them offering catches in the deep.
Getting past 300 was no guarantee, but Adil Rashid (13) and David Willey (13) changed that with handy cameos, to allow them to close on 318-8.