England blow South Africa away for whopping 118-run victory in rain-hit second ODI

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 (PA)
(PA)

A scintillating 10-ball spell that saw South Africa lose four wickets at the start of their chase powered England to a series-levelling win with one match of their ODI summer remaining.

Chasing 202, South Africa were bowled out for just 83, losing their first four wickets without scoring in a 10-ball period early in the innings. Reece Topley and David Willey got England going, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid finished the job.

For much of the day, a game seemed unlikely due to ugly, persistent rain. But it cleared for a 4.45pm start, reducing the game to 29 overs per side. South Africa won a good toss, again, and opted to bowl with the lights on and the cloud cover still thick.

In a game reduced to 29 overs per side by the rain, England posted 201, which felt middling. They had zipped along at seven an over, but lost wickets so regularly that they were still bowled out, for the fifth time in five ODIs this summer.

Just as they did at Lord’s eight ago, England defended their modest total brilliantly. Topley and Willey, back in the team after rests in Durham, started superbly, and their colleagues did not let up.

In Topley’s second over, Janneman Malan picked out mid-off, where Sam Curran took a smart catch, then Rassie van der Dussen was well taken down the legside by Jos Buttler. Willey followed it up with the wicket of Quinton de Kock, just chipping to close cover, where Liam Livingstone dived forward.

To top England’s stunning start off, Buttler’s beautiful right-handed flick ran out Aidan Markram before he had faced a ball.

South Africa had lost four wickets without scoring in a 10-ball period, as both bowlers produced wicket maidens. The game was all but up.

After Curran found a beauty that jagged back through David Miller’s gate, the rain returned. South Africa tried to slow the game down, which incensed England, who still needed to bowl 10 overs to make it an official game. There was a pause while England, frustrated, sorted an issue with the boundary boards.

The need for speed actually helped England, because it meant the spinners bowled through the shortened middle overs. Moeen had Heinrich Klaasen, the last threatening batter, stumped (with a send-off from Buttler), then Adil Rashid bowled Keshav Maharaj and forced Dwaine Pretorius to sky into the offside.

Rashid finished off with the wicket of Lungi Ngidi caught and bowled, but was denied that of Tabraiz Shamsi on review. Still, he will take figures of three for 29. A couple of balls later, Anrich Nortje picked out long-on to complete England’s 118-run win.

Their outstanding bowling performance covered for the fact that England experienced another top order malfunction, with the top six all out with just 101 on the board. There were, again, uncharacteristically tame dismissals, with Jason Roy and Phil Salt – in for Ben Stokes – caught at midwicket, Joe Root skying, and Jonny Bairstow bowled through the gate. All four fell to the rangy medium pace of Pretorius, who took career best figures of four for 36 from his six overs.

Moeen then Buttler fell to the spinners, taking the game on, but England’s final four wickets managed to scramble 100 more runs, most of them from the bats of Liam Livingstone and Sam Curran, whose partnership of 43 ignited hopes of a big score.

They went on a run of four successive sixes – one from Curran off Shamsi, three from Livingstone off Anrich Nortje – to spark the party stand into life. But Livingstone could not resist; he smashed another four, then was caught at midwicket, softly. This continued a theme for Livingstone; an impactful cameo that ended left England fans wanting more. Still, there had been some seriously sweet striking from the pair.

Curran forged on for three more overs, but fell trying to hit a fourth successive boundary down the ground, leaving Willey with a weak tail. They limped to 200, but Rashid was run out in the innings’ final over. Rashid’s dab into the offside skimmed a grazing pigeon, but he was still run out with ease.

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