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England prevail by D/L method as South Africa lose first ODI

In a match where runs were scored for fun, rain had the last laugh as England won by DuckworthLewis method.

Quinton de Kock
Quinton de Kock’s career-best ODI score went in vain

Jos Buttler’s century, which was aided by a sublime supporting cast of three fifties, helped England post 399/9, which proved to be too much for South Africa, who despite Quinton de Kock’s unbeaten century, lost by 39 runs by Duckworth-Lewis in the first ODI at Bloemfontein.

Before rain had the last laugh, Buttler’s 73-ball hundred showed that despite not being in the Test side, in the shorter formats, he is England’s first-choice keeper. Buttler’s century and fifties from Alex Hales, Joe Root and Ben Stokes, helped England post their highest ODI total away from home.

As South Africa were without Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander, Jason Roy took full advantage early in the game as he added 43 and helped England pass 50 in just the six over. Although he fell two short of a well-deserved fifty, he had provided England with the initial thrust they needed.

His opening partner, Alex Hales, who disappointed in the Test series, showed a change of format brings a change of form as he became the first of three Englishman to score a fifty. He added 62 for the second wicket with Joe Root before falling to a miscued hook in the 18th over.

Buttler, whose last ODI innings was the fastest hundred by an Englishman in ODIs earned himself a promotion to No.4 after Hales’ dismissal. Although this hundred wasn't as fast and came off 73 balls, it still set the platform for a massive England total and put him on the radars of a few IPL teams, just three days before the IPL auction.

Joe Root got to his fifty before an excellent swinging yorker from Chris Morkel led to his dismissal. Although captain Eoin Morgan departed early, Ben Stokes and Buttler joined together and hit the ball to all parts of the Mangaung Oval, which has a reputation as a batsman-friendly ground.

The way in which the pair were going, 400 looked like a certainty and it was a question of how much more they could manage. But Buttler perished soon after getting to his fourth ODI hundred, all of whom are the four fastest hundreds by an Englishman, with the score at 317 for 5.

After playing the role of the understudy for a while, Stokes took over after Buttler’s dismissal and got to his fifty, but lost his stumps trying a Buttler-esque scoop shot. Although the Proteas brought things back towards the end, England still managed to get to 399, their second highest ODI score, only behind their 408 for 9 against New Zealand at Edgbaston last June.

Chris Morris was the pick of the bowlers for the Proteas as he finished with figures of 3 for 74, but those numbers were helped massively by the fact that he only bowled five deliveries at Buttler.

Although South Africa have previously chased over 400 to win before, no side had previously made more than 351 to win here, nor chased a total of 300-plus under lights. But they got off to the worst possible start as they lost Hashim Amla in the third over.

A century partnership for the second wicket between Quinton de Kock and Francois du Plessis helped the hosts establish a platform. But du Plessis got out soon after getting to his fifty, with the score at 121/2 after 16 overs.

AB de Villiers came to the crease and got off the mark for the first time in four innings. But he departed early trying to up the ante with the threat of rain looming large. But it took a splendid catch by Ben Stokes to remove.

After that, it was de Kock who was left to fight a lone battle as none of the other batsmen stuck around for long enough to help the Proteas chase down a mammoth score. While the run rate was not beyond their reach, the fact that they had lost their three best batsmen meant the likelihood of the target being chased even more unlikely.

That seemed to have no effect on de Kock, who notched up his ninth ODI century, but fast losing out of partners, there was little he could do. JP Duminy and Rilee Rossouw both came and went without making a huge dent on the scoreboard.

In the end, the wicketkeeper, who had notched up his career-best score could do nothing but wait and watch as the rain finally and his glorious knock didn’t stop him from ending up on the losing side.

Brief score: South Africa 250/5 in 33.3 overs (de Kock 138*; Ali 3/43) lost to England 399/9 in 50 overs (Buttler 105; Morris 3/74) by 39 runs (D/L method)

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