Alex Hales, Reece Topley pile on misery for South Africa as England take 2-0 lead
England took a 2-0 lead in the 5-match ODI series against South Africa with a 5-wicket victory at the St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Saturday. Set 263 to win, English opener Alex Hales scripted the run chase with a well-made 99 before Jos Buttler finished off the proceedings with a quick fire 48* to pile on the misery for the hosts.
Depth in batting proved to be the difference between the two sides as the Proteas could only manage 64 runs in their final 10 overs while Buttler and Moeen Ali shared an unbeaten 61-run partnership for the sixth wicket that came off just 30 deliveries. Reece Topley picked up four wickets for the visitors and was well supported by the spinners.
With the pitch expected to be on the slower side, South African skipper AB de Villiers opted to bat first upon winning the toss. However, they lost Hashim Amla early while in-form batsman Quinton de Kock also departed in the 11th over as the hosts were reduced to 53/2.
Faf du Plessis looked set for a half-century but was dismissed by Adil Rashid for 46. Rashid, along with Moeen Ali, made good use of the conditions as the spin duo brought down the South African run-rate with some smart bowling. The pair gave away only 84 runs in 20 overs and were finished with their quota by the 37th over itself, allowing skipper Eoin Morgan to use his faster bowlers towards the end with freedom.
Coming into the match following three successive noughts in Tests and a score of 8 in the 1st ODI, De Villiers showed signs of getting back to his best with a knock of 73, the 31-year-old fell with a little over 10 overs to go. Along with Duminy, who made 47, De Villiers shared a 107-run partnership for the fourth wicket but South Africa desperately missed the firepower of De Villiers, that eventually proved costly in the end.
Jason Roy threatened to break loose early on but was snapped up by the returning Kyle Abbott as South Africa managed to get an early breakthrough. They had to wait for the second wicket, however, as Joe Root and Hales laid the foundation with a 97-run partnership for the second wicket. It was once again Abbott who provided the breakthrough as Root fell for 38.
Hales was joined at the crease by Morgan as the opener stepped up the scoring to bring England on par with the opposition total. Morgan and Stokes fell in quick succession with Hales also missing out on his century to put England in a spot of bother, but brilliant counter-attacking cricket by Buttler and Ali ensured that England take a healthy lead going into the third ODI to be held at Centurion on Tuesday.
Brief scores: South Africa 262/7 off 50 overs (De Villiers 73, Topley 4/50) lost to England 263/5 off 46.2 overs (Hales 99, Buttler 48*, Abbott 3/58) by five wickets.