JON CARDINELLI reflects on the players and moments that shaped the first ODI in Bloemfontein.
BATSMAN OF THE DAY
The most significant difference between Jos Buttler’s knock of 105 (76) and Quinton de Kock’s innings of 138 not out (96) is that the latter was achieved under pressure. Buttler came to the crease when England were well set at 130-2, and proceeded to launch from that platform. De Kock fired from the outset, and continued to drive South Africa’s run-chase in the middle overs.
BOWLER OF THE DAY
Moeen Ali came in for some punishment initially, but took the key wickets of Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers. When he was re-introduced later in the innings, Ali bowled with more control and had the batsmen under pressure. That eventually told on Rilee Rossouw, who holed out at long-off.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Alex Hales was responsible for the biggest six of the day. The England opening batsman got to the pitch of a gentle JP Duminy off-spinner, and hit it out of the ground. The players eventually took drinks as members of the ground staff were dispatched to search for the missing ball.
DELIVERY OF THE DAY
Chris Morris got Joe Root with a beauty. The ball was full and swung back into the right-handed batsman. Root misjudged the length and pace of the delivery, and played it onto his stumps.
CATCH OF THE DAY
Ben Stokes took a blinder to dismiss AB de Villiers. The South African captain smashed Moeen Ali towards cow corner. The ball was hit flat and hard, and seemed destined to cross the boundary. Stokes managed to get across and throw out a hand. The catch stuck, and the dangerous De Villiers was forced to depart.
Much has been said about England’s new approach, and the batsmen have certainly lived up to the hype. England posted 399-9 in Bloemfontein to break the previous ODI record at this venue of 351 (set by South Africa against Zimbabwe in 2010). The total also marks England’s highest ODI score away from home.
NEW BALL WOES
A few eyebrows would have been raised when the inexperienced pair of Chris Morris and Marchant de Lange was tasked with opening the bowling. Both struggled to hit the right areas. Seven overs and 60-odd runs later, AB de Villiers made his first change. Morné Morkel made the breakthrough in his first over, getting Jason Roy caught at cover.
SEARCH FOR NO 5 CONTINUES
South Africa are yet to find a solution to their fifth bowler problem. All of the specialists went for runs in this fixture. However, JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien cost the Proteas the most runs (93) in their combined spell of 10 overs (Duminy leaked 48 in five, and Behardien 45 in five).
Joe Root and Jos Buttler put on 97 runs for the fourth wicket. Significantly, 89 of those runs were scored between the 21st and 30th overs. This partnership set the platform for England to record a massive total.
… the weather had stayed away? Quinton de Kock was well set. Could he have steered South Africa to victory? Looking at the requirement at that stage (150 off 99 balls with five wickets in hand), one would have to say that England were favourites. Besides De Kock and Farhaan Behardien, the hosts had just one capable batsman in Chris Morris to come.