No fairytale ending for Ben Stokes’ ODI tale as England burned by South Africa in Durham

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Ben Stokes and England fell to defeat in the all-rounders final ODI  (AFP via Getty Images)
Ben Stokes and England fell to defeat in the all-rounders final ODI (AFP via Getty Images)

There was no fairytale ending for Ben Stokes on his final ODI appearance and nor was it to be for his England team.

At the Riverside, Stokes’ home ground, South Africa won by 62 runs, picking up valuable points in the ODI Super League and continuing England’s poor white-ball summer, especially their batters, who were bowled out for the fourth ODI in a row. That has not happened for eight years.

While he bowled five fruitless overs, Stokes’ adoring local crowd had to wait until 7.20pm on a sweltering day to see him really enter the action, when he walked out to bat.

And he had been at the crease for just 15 minutes when he became Aidan Markram’s second lbw victim, departing for just five. His batting partner Joe Root invited him to use England’s only remaining review, but Stokes took the selfless option and left. He was right: he was plumb.

That left England 142 for three after 28 overs chasing 334 and, when Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali departed cheaply, the hosts were doomed to end the day 1-0 down in the three-match series. After a steady start, England’s chase had fallen off the rails.

This was a fine win for South Africa, but they were helped by a very handy toss to win. They asked England to field in the heat of the day, while they racked up runs on a slow surface.

They powered their way to 333 for five, with Rassie van der Dussen making 133 from 117 balls, his highest international score. He was supported in partnerships of 109 and 151 with Janneman Malan and Markram, who made 57 and 77 respectively.

England understandably wilted in the heat. Matt Potts, on debut, bowled four overs for 33 at the top of the innings, then left the field to rehydrate for the remainder of the innings. Stokes struggled too, while Sam Curran spent time off the field. That posed challenges for Jos Buttler, who juggled his ailing attack pretty well.

England were asked to pull off their sixth-highest chase, but probably left the field pretty pleased with their work in the circumstances. South Africa’s top four had batted superbly, picking gaps to run England ragged on a big ground. There was, though, not a single six hit in their innings.

Curran picked up the wicket of the dangerous Quinton de Kock in the powerplay, bowled, but Malan and Van der Dussen built a fine partnership. Malan was looking to kick on when Moeen Ali returned, and had him taken in the deep.

Ben Stokes departs after falling for just five runs with the bat (AFP via Getty Images)
Ben Stokes departs after falling for just five runs with the bat (AFP via Getty Images)

That brought together Van der Dussen and Markram, who surged on for 20 overs, virtually unperturbed. Van der Dussen’s reverse-sweeping of England’s spinners was especially hard to contain, while Markram drove strongly. As those two approached the final few overs of the innings, a score far beyond 350 looked possible.

But in a strong comeback, Liam Livingstone’s part-time spin dismissed both men in the 46th over of the innings, then Brydon Carse found two excellent overs to finish off, including picking up Heinrich Klaasen caught in the deep. David Miller was not out at the end, having edged Curran to the bench three times, including one that skimmed the stumps.

England’s chase began well, if a little more quietly than usual. Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow shared 100 for the 14th time in ODIs but, by their standards, were sluggish. It took them until the 19th over and Roy, who had been particularly scratchy, fell next ball, expertly picking out the man in the deep off Keshav Maharaj. South Africa’s captain finished with excellent figures of 10-1-42-1.

Bairstow reached 50 in 51 balls, but was dropped badly by Lungi Ngidi shortly after, and slowed down, before becoming Markram’s first victim, sweeping. He took a review with him. That sparked the collapse that saw Stokes fall reversing and Buttler caught and bowled. Livingstone and Moeen were guilty of greed when trying to tick the score on.

That left Root with Curran, placed at the head of the tail. With the rate climbing, they hunted boundaries but, when Root was bowled for 86 from 77 balls and Curran pinned lbw in the same Anrich Nortje over, the crowd could finally head home to get some respite from the weather.

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