Sloppy England batting spoils Jofra Archer's return in first ODI against South Africa
By Will Macpherson, in Bloemfontein
What have England fans waited longer for: the return to fitness of Jofra Archer, or the return to form of Jason Roy? At the Mangaung Oval, they got both – but started 2023, the year of their World Cup defence, by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Archer was rusty, understandably, in taking one for 81, his most expensive one-day international figures, as South Africa made 298, which felt under par despite Rassie van der Dussen’s excellent century.
For so much of England’s innings, Roy’s 113 from 91 seemed set to be both career-saving and match-winning. But the limpness of England’s batting – his opening partnership with Dawid Malan aside – saw them fall to defeat thanks to a succession of soft dismissals.
Jos Buttler, the captain, said they lacked “conviction” in stumbling listlessly from 146 without loss to 271 all out. Archer was the penultimate wicket to fall, to the brilliant Anrich Nortje for a duck, capping the sort of comeback about which he has not spent 22 months dreaming, while out with stress fractures of the elbow and back.
It had taken until the 49th over of South Africa’s innings and the last of his 10 for that wicket, Wayne Parnell miscuing into the offside, to arrive. There was no celebration – he swivelled on his heels, bowed his head, and walked back to his mark – but surely plenty of relief. Archer’s pace was steady (Olly Stone’s average, 140kph, was quicker than his 138.9, although Archer bowls more slower balls), and he had the air of a man managing his way back in.
Bowling seven of his 10 overs in the powerplay and at the death, when his ninth was hit for 20, he was exposed to the toughest phases of the game on an unforgiving pitch. “It’s a big step up for him and I’m delighted to see him come through that, it’s great to see him in an England shirt and back taking a wicket,” said Buttler. Even though he’s such a superstar of the game, they’re all good steps on the way to getting back to his best."
With Sam Curran superb, England were the happier of the sides at halfway and, on the sort of beautiful South African batting track on which Roy grew up, he broke the back of the chase and quietened the debate around his place.
That debate has been worthwhile. Since the 2019 World Cup final, Roy had averaged 28 in ODIs, with his only century coming against the Netherlands. That came last year, in the middle of a deeper slump that saw him dropped – perhaps permanently – from the T20 side on the eve of the World Cup. But it is important to separate Roy's T20 and ODI performances.
In T20s, he was a fine player. In ODIs, he is an England great, and his opening partnership with Jonny Bairstow stands among the best in history. Even after Roy’s long lean spell, he averages 40 and strikes at 106. Remember how badly awry the 2019 World Cup went when he was injured?
There are reasons they stood by him. Still, credit runs out eventually. Three failures here, and it would have been hard to see him travelling to Bangladesh in March, let alone India in October.
It is not just his own struggles, but the excellence of others that have heaped pressure on Roy. A by-product of England’s white-ball brilliance since 2015 is the clones popping up across the shires – and now dominating the global short-form scene.
There is heat from Phil Salt and Malan in this squad, Will Jacks and James Vince outside it, and even Alex Hales in retirement. On the eve of this game, Roy cut a relaxed figure. He has not been making runs in the SA20 (100 in eight innings), but he has been enjoying a relaxing time in the Western Cape with his young family, as well as his friends and Paarl Royals team-mates Buttler and Eoin Morgan.
At training here, he sought the counsel of his mentor Kevin Pietersen, who stood behind his net, providing position reinforcement, and watching for little technical foibles. Shortly before training, more positivity had flowed from Buttler’s mouth.
“Jason knows he’s not performing as well as he’d like to,” he said. “But we are backing him… We think he has loads to offer, and are excited to see him get back to his best”. It did not take long.
A day later, Buttler declared Roy “completely back to his best”. By the end of the fifth over of England’s chase, he had stroked four brutish boundaries. Once out of the powerplay in style, Roy kicked on, especially after reaching a 45-ball fifty. In a flash, he had 87 from 66.
It was at dusk that England, around Roy, began to implode, losing three wickets in three overs, including the debutant Harry Brook for a duck. Roy steadied himself to reach his 11th ODI century (this, from 79 balls, was his third fastest). With each wicket, the growing South African contingent in the crowd, outsung until then, believed a little more. They were right to.
It was not the fall of Roy, caught in the deep, that downed England, but the frenetic Moeen Ali and Buttler, who displayed the timidity he discussed. Buttler was “hurt” by the defeat, but sought “the bigger picture”, and found consolation in the returns of two familiar faces.
What a remarkable turnaround
England were coasting at 146 for no wicket off 116 balls but a great fightback by the South African quicks (Rabada two for 46, Nortje four for 62 and Magala three for 46) keeps their hopes of qualifying automatically for October's World Cup alive. Buttler looks furious but there were no significant contributions with the bat from Duckett, Brook and Moeen and the all-rounders couldn't dig them out this time.
Stone c & b Shamsi 1 Spoons the leg-break back to the bowler. South Africa win by 27 runs.
OVER 44: ENG 271/9 (Rashid 14 Stone 1) chasing 299
Magala has two overs left. Rashid slashes two down to third man and, after a swing and a miss, pulls a single off his eyebrows to deep backward square. Stone inside edges an inswinger into his pad then turns a single round the corner. England need 28 off 36 with one wicket remaining.
OVER 43: ENG 267/9 (Rashid 11 Stone 0) chasing 299
Rashid skelps the yorker down to midwicket for a single. Nortje steams in to Archer who gets behind the first two to block then sways out of the road of the perfume ball that trims his nostril hairs. Nortje bags him with the penultimate ball of his 10 and Stome walks to the wicket to face the fearsome pace.
Stone defends it ands Nortje walks off with four for 62, three for 13 in these last four overs in a game-changing spell.
Archer c Klaasen b Nortje 0 Squared up by another short one it flies off the edge to point. FOW 267/9
OVER 42: ENG 266/8 (Rashid 9 Archer 0) chasing 299
Rabada has one over left and runs in hard. Curran works one off his pads, Rashid slaps a single behind square. But that's the only damage and Rabada signs off with the wicket of Curran, putting South Africa in the box seat.
Curran c De Kock b Rabada 17 Hangs back and tries to clip it down to third man. Done by the late movement he can only feather an edge through to the keeper. FOW 266/8
OVER 41: ENG 264/7 (Curran 16 Rashid 9) chasing 299
Rashid uses his life to smear the free hit for four through midwicket, clearing the front leg. England are clinging on by their fingernails. Thirty-five to win off 54 balls.
Rashid is caught off a no ball
Flaps a bouncer off the top edge to slip. Nortje was three inches over the line.
OVER 40: ENG 256/7 (Curran 15 Rashid 3) chasing 299
Rashid pulls a free hit, awarded for a Rabada no-ball, to deep square leg. Parnell goes to block it rather than catch it and the home fans, unaware it was a free hit, give him hell for dropping it.
Curran works a single down to third man with a choppy dab, Rashid tucks one uppishly off his hip for another and Curran fends a bouncer off his throat for one more. It flew off the handle.
South Africa have to find three more overs from their spinners bit Bavuma is wisely bargaining that the game will be won or lost by the 48th over so best to leave it until then
OVER 39: ENG 251/7 (Curran 13 Rashid 1) chasing 299
South Africa's quicks have clawed this back. Three dot balls at 90mph plus put enough strain on Willey to try to break the shackles that he went for a pull off a ball that was too quick and close to his Adam's apple. Enter Rashid who gets away with a slap behind point for a single.
Willey c Miller b Nortje 8 Nortje comes round the wicket, cramps Willey with the short ball. He pulls nonetheless but can only cloth it high to cover. FOW 250/7
OVER 38: ENG 249/6 (Curran 12 Willey 8) chasing 299
Curran seizes the initiative and throws his hands at Magala's length ball, walloping it over mid-off for six. Curran steps back anticipating the bouncer but Magala pitches it up and Curran adjusts to poke a single through cover. Willey, a No3 in white-ball cricket for Yorkshire, then creams four through cover and, after two dot balls, pulls Magala off his chest for four more. Fifteen off the over.
OVER 37: ENG 234/6 (Curran 5 Willey 0) chasing 299
Nortje replaces Rabada and Buttler, greets his second attempt at his first ball (having dropped the ball in his delivery stride) by chopping the ball down to third man. Four balls later that same stroke does for him. England have two hitters in Curran and Willey left, Rashid is all flicks and carves but has hardly batted or needed to for years while Jofra likes a swish.
Buttler c De Kock b Nortje 36 Miserliness is rewarded with a wicket. Drying up the runs tempts Buttler to try to dab a single down to third man but the ball was too close to open the face on and he tickles it through to the keeper. FOW 234/6
OVER 36: ENG 232/5 (Buttler 35 Curran 4) chasing 299
Magala tightens the vice with a testing over that costs him merely two singles, both into the onside. But Curran can't beat the ring off the final three balls and is forced to duck a nasty bouncer.
OVER 35: ENG 230/5 (Buttler 34 Curran 3) chasing 299
Will Macpherson reports
That was a spectacularly dozy innings from Moeen: near run outs, wafts, mishits, and then eventually he holed out. England have plenty to do still!
Buttler punches a drive to the cover sweeper for one and flicks two off his pads. Curran nurdles a single off his legs and thick edges another down to third man.
OVER 34: ENG 224/5 (Buttler 31 Curran 1) chasing 299
Buttler gives the dressing room a scare when he takes on a Red Bull single to mid-off. In comes the throw, scattering the wickets but the England captain was home. Man! He's quick.
Moeen murders Magala's length ball over long on for four, 2ft short of a six, then holes out next ball when Magala absolutely bangs in the bouncer.
Moeen c Van de Dussen b Magala 11 Good bouncer gets up higher than Moeen expected and he had to fetch it, losing control in the process and flapping it to deep square leg. FOW 222/5
OVER 33: ENG 216/4 (Buttler 30 Moeen 6) chasing 299
Moeen steals a single to mid-off. Bavuma's throw was so poor that it was closer to Moeen's neck than the poles. England are strolling towards victory with singles.
OVER 32: ENG 212/4 (Buttler 29 Moeen 4) chasing 299
Nortje at third man loses a possible catching opportunity in the lights when Moeen uppercuts Rabada but without conviction. He runs in but can't see the ball as it swirls. Rabada is not very sympathetic, fuming that a chance like that has gone begging. They take a single, Buttler pings one through cover and Moeen flicks another to midwicket. Rabada's humour isn't improved when his bounce is called wide. It was the right call and but for De Kock's acrobatic stop could have cost him four more.
OVER 31: ENG 208/4 (Buttler 28 Moeen 2) chasing 299
Parnell replaces Shamsi and starts with tight lines and variations of pace, racking up three dot balls and conceding a piar of singles of his first five deliveries. And then Buttler hits one of his hockey drives for four, larruping the ball through mid-on with blinding hand speed and no foot movement.
OVER 30: ENG 202/4 (Buttler 23 Moeen 1) chasing 299
Buttler is in the groove now, pulling Rabada hard, flat and square for four after Moeen gets off the mark with a wristy steer through cover point for a single. England bat so deep and have so many overs left, they remain overwhelming favourites.
Roy c Parnell b Rabada 113 All aboard a bouncer, pulling hard and carting it to deep backward square where Parnell takes a good catch two yards in from the fence, good catch because he pummelled it. FOW 196/4
OVER 29: ENG 196/3 (Roy 113 Buttler 17) chasing 299
Poor old Shamsi is taking a proper panning. Starting this over with figures of 4-0-45-0, Buttler adds to his woes with two crisp off-drives for four off his first two deliveries. After Buttler flicks a leg-stump fullish one for a single, Roy is beaten when reverse sweeping. No justice for po' Tabraiz. The ball turns, beats the bat and vaults over middle stump.
OVER 28: ENG 186/3 (Roy 112 Buttler 8) chasing 299
Rabada replaces Nortje and messes with Buttler's timing by taking the pace off, forcing a waft outside off and a couple more dot balls as Buttler toils uncharacteristically. Finally he takes a single off an inside edge and Roy chastises himself when he tries to dab/late cut a ball that was too close to do so, almost nicking off. 'Oh, Jason!' he shouts. 'F---!'
OVER 27: ENG 185/3 (Roy 112 Buttler 7) chasing 299
Shamsi can't get his line right and consequently, when he does pin Roy, De Kock shakes his head when he proposes a review. Too many deliveries, like that one, have turned too much on a leg-stump line. To add insult to injury, Roy drops to one knee and launches the next delivery over midwicket for his fourth six.
OVER 26: ENG 175/3 (Roy 103 Buttler 7) chasing 299
While Roy is batting with the fluency of his earlier purple patches, Buttler is struggling to shake off the rust. Magala is bowling very well, taking two off a thick inside edge, swinging and missing at a bouncer, swinging and missing at a mow to cow corner. He chisels out the yorker for a single while Roy reads the slower ball bouncer perfectly and swats it square for a single.
OVER 25: ENG 170/3 (Roy 102 Buttler 4) chasing 299
Nortje again gives Roy one in the slot outside off stump. He has blistering pace but the white ball does him no favours and Roy's hands are fast enough to drive two through cover and then, after exchanging singles with the captain who defended him so eloquently yesterday, pulls a short ball for four to bring up his 11th ODI century, his first since Amstelveen last year and only his second since that 153 against Bangladesh in the 2019 World Cup.
Roy emits a yell that sounds more like an exorcism that relief. He's back!
"What a player! What an occasion!" 👏
Jason Roy reaches 100 🔥 pic.twitter.com/SMTo6EezvT
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) January 27, 2023
OVER 24: ENG 162/3 (Roy 94 Buttler 3) chasing 299
Magala is a big lad and not quick in his bustling run up but his tremendous strength generates plenty of aggressive pace. Buttler Harrow drives for two and is then sconned by an 89mph bouncer. Kling I Klang! On come the medics for the concussion protocol and to ensure he has a new helmet. Chris Woakes brings three new helmets to the middle and Buttler takes the fist of them, scavenging some foam from his old one to cushion the back of his napper.
OVER 23: ENG 157/3 (Roy 93 Buttler 0)
As his colleagues at the other end toil, Roy continues to cruise but now, with the pressure of having to see England home. Nortje drops short outside off and Roy goes up en pointe to slap two through cover. The number of people who wrote him off last year was ridiculous. He deserved to lose his place in the T20 squad but he has always been a fine 50-over player.
Nortje is reaching 92mph, giving Roy the hurry-up but his reflexes are quick enough to pull high over midwicket for two and keep a bouncer down with a mixture of splice and glove as he takes a single round the corner.
OVER 22: ENG 152/3 (Roy 88 Buttler)
Here comes Jos Buttler who, not to repeat myself, England will be hoping can steady the ship.
Rob Bagchi is back to take you through the rest of the day's action.
Wicket! Harry Brook lbw b Magala 0
Well, that was quick! Brook is out for a duck, the next victim of South Africa's timely fightback. Not a debut to remember, I'll grant you.
Roy toys with appealing, but this holds no truck with Brook, who's off sharpish.
OVER 21: ENG 151/2 (Roy 88 Brook 0)
Next up, Harry Brook, who dazzled in Pakistan, and will be called upon to immediately steady the ship here. Facing Nortje and his luxurious moustache in South Africa for the first time as he makes his ODI debut, he sensibly leaves the delivery.
Wicket! Ben Duckett c de Kock b Nortje 3
It doesn't take long for South Africa to claim their next victim, as Nortje steps into the breach and manfully dispatches Duckett. He sneaks the ball behind him for de Kock to grasp the ball cleanly!
OVER 20: ENG 147/1 (Roy 85 Duckett 1)
On comes Ben Duckett to face Magala, and he gets a lucky break early on after his over the shoulder shot clears the gully and leaps out for a single.
Wicket! Dawid Malan c Bavuma b Magala 59
South Africa finally have their scalp, as Malan goes for another lofted shot and the ball springs straight up in the air, giving the captain more than enough time to position himself right underneath it. But can the home team stop the rot?
🚨 WICKET 🚨
Dawid Malan pops it high in the sky, and is caught by Temba Bavuma ❌ pic.twitter.com/5cV51A3slB
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) January 27, 2023
OVER 19: ENG 144/0 (Roy 85 Malan 58)
Malan burgles a glorious full-toss four from Shamsi's delivery, which brings him to his half-century, and he celebrates with another four, creamed through the covers. Shamsi overpitches his next delivery once again, and Malan can nick a single. Worse still – it's a no-ball, and England are due a free hit, the last thing South Africa would argue they need.
Thump! Roy clouts the ball, which lands beautifully in front of him, up and down the ground for six. Malan claims two more through long-off.
OVER 18: ENG 126/0 (Roy 78 Malan 47)
In comes Magala into the attack, who keeps things broadly economical, with Roy and Malan able to claim sporadic singles. England's current run rate is the none-too-shabby 7.13, which can withstand the odd dot ball or too.
More from Will Macpherson, on Jason Roy:
This has been a superb innings from Roy, and he's motoring – and blowing – now. Suspect he's grateful for the drinks break. This is the Roy of old, in so many ways. Even after the slump, he has an outstanding ODI record.
OVER 17: ENG 123/0 (Roy 77 Malan 45)
South Africa will have to come up with some answers, and fast, after Roy sneaks the ball out to the boundary after fumbling the ball over his shoulder with the barest lick of inside edge. The ball nips the gloves too, to further infuriate. He picks up another four with a sweep through backward square leg.
A couple more, and that's drinks.
OVER 16: ENG 110/0 (Roy 65 Malan 44)
Roy pulls off a terrific shot, swept up over his shoulder over backward square leg, and whilst it looks primed to drop for the field... it doesn't! Instead, the two fielders don't move an inch, the ball falling over the boundary plum between them. The partnership have their hundred. He then picks up a boundary, ball smacked through backward point.
Roy is playing himself back into spellbinding form, and it couldn't have come at a finer moment.
OVER 15: ENG 95/0 (Roy 52 Malan 42)
In comes Shamsi, as South Africa's first wicket continues to elude them. England are unfettered here, and intervention should come quickly. Roy picks up two singles, in quick succession, before the umpire cautions the bowler for trying to use a dab of saliva on the ball – 'I'm not doing it on purpose', Shamsi protests. No dice, I'm afraid.
Malan clouts the ball through long-on but the field can spring into action to keep him at one run only. England's rhythm should be cause for concern as things stand.
Jason Roy's towering six
Jason Roy slaps it away for 6️⃣
England making nice progress here 👍 pic.twitter.com/GexekUgNyR
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) January 27, 2023
OVER 14: ENG 91/0 (Roy 50 Malan 40)
Roy continues his bright showing picking four off Nortje's opening delivery with a powerful strike through midwicket. He adds two more to his tally, before unleashing a dazzling sweep that bullets its way to the boundary for another four.
He nabs a single to reach his half-century to the roar of the crowd on their feet.
OVER 13: ENG 80/0 (Roy 39 Malan 40)
Malan and Roy are matching one another well: a single from Roy here, two more from Malan there, as the efficiently work their way closer to South Africa's target. Markram delivers three whippy dot balls, and Malan can only knock his final delivery back down the pitch with a grunt of frustration.
OVER 12: ENG 77/0 (Roy 38 Malan 38)
A brief drinks break as requested by Roy, and we're back underway. The pause does Malan well, as he perfectly reads Anrich Nortje's opening delivery to heave the ball out for four through fine leg. Roy grapples with Nortje's pace, swiping his bat over his shoulder to claim a smash-and-grab single. But that's all he can wrangle, for now.
OVER 11: ENG 71/0 (Roy 37 Malan 33)
Bring on the spin, and Markram is the first to try and draw first blood. His first delivery goes wide, but Roy has more to chew on with an opening single clipped through square leg. But then Roy really gets going: a hoofed shot that flies over the field at mid-off, taken on bended knee, for six.
Malan gets into the swing of things with four, profiting from a lack of slip as the ball skirts past the running fielders. An extremely profitable overs for England.
Will Macpherson is at Bloemfontein:
A simply massive innings for Jason Roy. Just the kind of opportunity he needs: to get England away on a good pitch and, in doing so, save his own bacon.
OVER 10: ENG 56/0 (Roy 29 Malan 27)
Roy nets a single with a clubbed knock through point, and Malan joins in on the fun with a neat clip behind. Roy sneaks a final run to wrap up the powerplay. At this stage, South Africa were just ahead on 75/1.
OVER 9: ENG 53/0 (Roy 27 Malan 26)
Malan whisks the ball deep through backward point, the ball just missing the grasp of a stretching fielder to roll out for another four, which brings the opening partnership up to their half-century. Parnell makes sure they can't claim much more from the over, but there should be no complaints from England fans.
OVER 8: ENG 48/0 (Roy 26 Malan 22)
Rabada serves up a succession of dot balls before Roy can get away, sparking the ball through the line, draining it of its bounce, to sweep the ball cleanly through the covers for four. He adds a single to his haul, as we inch towards the end of the powerplay.
OVER 7: ENG 43/0 (Roy 21 Malan 22)
After being tightly held by Parnell's succession of dot balls, Roy can get away with a sneaked single that chivvies the fielders into action at deep square leg. That's all that England can claim, however, as South Africa slow down the early marauding.
OVER 6: ENG 42/0 (Roy 20 Malan 22)
Malan scuff the ball to backward point, where a waiting fielder dives onto it and shuffles it back. Rabada keeps the batsmen on a very tight leash, but Roy can claim one too. He nicks the ball and heads off, but Markram in the same position gets to the ball quickly and saves South Africa's blushes. An economical over for the home side.
OVER 5: ENG 40/0 (Roy 19 Malan 21)
A whippy delivery from Parnell beats Malan's outside edge, outfoxing the batsman for the first time today. Parnell gets good length on his next, growing into the over. But Malan can get away on the third delivery, making clean contact to strike the ball through covers for four. Not much Parnell or his fielders could have done to stop that, I'm afraid.
OVER 4: ENG 34/0 (Roy 19 Malan 16)
A good decision, that, as Roy faces Rabada for the first time and draws a springing four, shot glancing behind him to streak to the boundary. He adds a single to his tally, before handing over to Malan. Rabada scuffs the pace of his delivery, and Malan can only claim a solitary run for the remainder of the over.
OVER 3: ENG 29/0 (Roy 14 Malan 15)
Roy claims his 4,000th international run with a drive that tears through the field to smack the boundary for four. Another boundary through midwicket follows suit, as England set their intentions early.
He quickly smacks a single neatly towards mid-off to retain strike, looking supremely confident.
OVER 2: ENG 20/0 (Roy 5 Malan 15)
Rabada's luck quickly springs the other way as he steps up to bowl, after Malan picks off his angled delivery to squire the ball out for four. He's making hay with the powerplay, and punches the ball from his shoelaces out high to calls of 'catch it!' but the fielders are optimistic. The ball overleaps them and meets the boundary for another four.
Better and better: Malan claims England's fourth boundary with a gentle-handed play through the middle of his bat. The drive rolls at pace through the fielders, capping a profitable over.
OVER 1: ENG 9/0 (Roy 5 Malan 4)
The Barmy Army fire up 'Jerusalem' as England begin their chase. Roy capitalises on Parnell overpitching somewhat and casually shrugs the new ball through mid-on and out for an early four. He picks up a quick single, before Malan steps up to face his first delivery. He chips the ball behind off the inside-edge, but on the second time of asking, he scrapes the ball powerfully out for four. Rabada sprints for it, and intercepts it just in time, sliding into the Toblerone to claw the ball back.
Is he too later? Or right on time? Three runs is all Malan can claim, after a thorough review.
Out come the players
Wayne Parnell practises his run-up, due to bowl first to Jason Roy and Dawid Malan.
Rebuilding Jofra Archer: Inside his 22-month battle back to international cricket
Some lunchtime reading, courtesy of Will Macpherson:
The scale and proximity of Archer’s two injuries represented “a unique challenge” for the player and those managing him. There were additional complicating factors: first, his global appeal and popularity; second, the sheer cross-format brilliance he had shown in his early months as an international cricketer, and in domestic leagues around the world. Those factors created huge interest, impatience and an almost unfair level of expectation – which has sometimes given way to hope – around his return.
Read more Archer's injury journey, his globe-trotting road to surgery, and how he managed his recovery here.
Another strong innings from Sam Curran
Continuing recent magic, Curran was solid stemming the flow of runs when called upon.
Sam Curran 9-0-35-3, with just two boundaries, and an excellent catch is a superb contribution to a solid England showing there.
— Will Macpherson (@willis_macp) January 27, 2023
Elsewhere in South Africa
England's U19 have just pulled off the near-impossible in their semi-final at the U19 Women's T20 World Cup. After making 99, they left it until the last to bowl Australia all out for 96, swiping the win by three runs to bag their place in Sunday's final against India.
Dramatic is not the word.
England need 299 to win
Tamara Prenn will be your guide for the start of the England innings.
Lunch: SA 298/7
England need 299 to win. South Africa look about 30 short to me but it's never easy batting at night, it's a big outfield and SA have Nortje and Rabada in great form.
Jofra Archer was expensive but enjoyed a valuable workout, gradually moving through the gears. Sam Curran was the pick of the bowlers but Adil Rashid and Olly Stone made valuable contributions, too.
OVER 50: SA 298/7 (Magala 5 Rabada 2)
Miller starts the over with the old heave-ho over midwicket for four then holes out by virtue of Willey's sensational catch. Rabada takes two singles, Magala one. Mercifully I won't have to eat my words now. They didn't make 300. Curran ends with 9-0-35-3, not just England's brakeman but their strike bowler today, too.
Miller c Willey b Curran 53 Terrific catch by David Willey at long on, clawing it back from the rope with enough height to allow him to brace himself with one foot over the boundary and give him the time to catch it cleanly when he brought his leg back. FOW 295/7
🚨 WICKET 🚨
Wow! What a catch from David Willey! Absolutely superb! 👏 pic.twitter.com/pAmoEoYOg1
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) January 27, 2023
OVER 49: SA 291/6 (Miller 49 Magala 4)
Magala throws the bat at Archer's fast and full channel ball and slices it for four behind point, meaning Archer ends with 10-0-81-1, his most expensive return in ODIs but, as I said, who cares right now?
Parnell c Malan b Acher 2 Jofra gets the wicket his endeavours have earned, Charles Stewart Parnell squirting a drive off the oustrdie edge to backward point. FOW 287/6
OVER 48: SA 286/5 (Miller 48 Parnell 2)
Curran, after sending VDD back to the hutch, is penalised for a high full toss but defends the free hit given to Miller with a slow cutter that he can only chastise for a single. Six off the over at this stage plus a wicket ... Curran is worth his weight in rupees.
Van der Dussen c Duckett b Curran 111 His own, personal Nelson! Curran does the centurion with the slower ball and cloths it to cover. Duckett takes a very good, running, sliding catch coming in off the fence. FOW 281/5
OVER 47: SA 280/4 (Van der Dussen 111 Miller 45)
Archer comes back for his final two overs. Miller pulls the slower ball for a single then hits VDD in the box. He hobbles a single. A no-ball gives SA a free-hit which, after the first one was called wide, VDD dispatches on the pull for six. Van der Dussen pulls two off the underedge and a single to deep backward square. Archer goes for the yorker to Miller but it doesn't land and Miller pulls it through midwicket for four and, given it was above waits height, it was called no-ball. Archer goes for a yorker for the second free hit and Miller can only jab it out for a single.
Will Macpherson reports
An ugly over there for Archer, having started it well. Two no balls, a wide, a four and a six, 20 from it. The crowd were on his back a bit too.
OVER 46: SA 260/4 (Van der Dussen 102 Miller 38)
Miller has a swing and a miss at a slog sweep, beaten by the flight and turn of the googly. The ball whistles over the off bail. Miller works a single to midwicket, VDD nurdles one through mid-off and, after another hoick and miss, Miller drags one of the bottom edge past short fine leg for four. Rashid thinks the fielder should have stopped it. It was certainly a false stroke but the moral victory butters no parsnips for Rashid who finishes with 10-0-55-1. His three overs at the death went for only 18.
OVER 45: SA 253/4 (Van der Dussen 101 Miller 32)
Stone sends down a brute of an off-stump bouncer to Van der Dussen who aborts the pull midway through the spin. But he does get to his hundred, his fourth in ODIs, off 110 deliveries with a steer down to point for a single.
Stone's cutter doesn't get up and Miller climbs into it, pulling it very hard for four. Stone tries the yorker and Miller chisels it out for a single to mid-on. Van der Dussen pulls the penultimate ball for one and Miller pumps a strike-farming single through cover.
OVER 44: SA 245/4 (Van der Dussen 99 Miller 26)
Rashid takes the pace off and bamboozles Miller, who tried to slog sweep the googly but instead wears it on the chest. The next delivery turns sharply into his pads. At last Miller picks one and slaps two to the cover sweeper, then clumps a single to mid-on.
Van der Dussen moves on to 99 with a midwicket flick. He wanted two but Miller shrewdly sent him back.
OVER 43: SA 241/4 (Van der Dussen 98 Miller 23)
Stone returns. Miller flicks a single through midwicket, VDD yells when he belts a drive straight to cover but takes two when mid-off's sliding stop off the next drive diverts the ball to long on.
KP still thinks 320 is possible. They may have the talent to get there but England are doing a fine containing job so far. I can't see them making 300 ... says a man ready to eat his words.
OVER 42: SA 234/4 (Van der Dussen 93 Miller 21)
Rashid returns with three overs in the bank. VDD taps two very straight past the bowler then scrambles another two to the cover sweeper, diving again to make his ground. No justice for Rashid as he gets one above the eyeline to dip, grip and rip. Van der Dussen gets his bat on it late and takes a single to cover. Miller can only take a single off the final two balls and looks like a Ferrari driving through an M1 contraflow.
OVER 41: SA 227/4 (Van der Dussen 88 Miller 19)
Duckett is a gazelle in the field, chasing down VDD's pull, gathering it and throwing in smoothly. Van der Dussen thought it was four all the way off the bat but was restricted to two. He has hit only six boundaries, putting some miles in those legs. Willey's bouncer vaults too high and is called wide. We always expect Miller to wind up and start playing those big shots but is being frustrated by England's lefties so far, kept down to singles and the odd two.
OVER 40: SA 220/4 (Van der Dussen 84 Miller 17)
Curran is the brakeman again, conceding merely two single, racking up dot balls with a Sidebottom slow bouncer, and three pitched up deliveries shaping on to off stump.
OVER 39: SA 218/4 (Van der Dussen 83 Miller 16)
The Devil's helpmates at both ends for England as Willey joins Curran in an all left-arm attack. VDD works two off his pads and then pulls a single in front of square. Miller pats a single to cover and VDD bookends the over with another flick off his pads for two. Drying up the boundaries on a flat pitch has turned this match in England's favour. SA might tee off now but I think they'll be well short of 330 which looks about par to me.
OVER 38: SA 212/4 (Van der Dussen 78 Miller 15)
VDD takes a crazy single to Archer at mid-off- gambling, perhaps, that his elbow would not be risked in a full-bore shy. But Archer does go all in for the run out, slinging it in side-arm style and the ball whistles past the non-striker's with Van der Dussen short by milimetres with his headlong dive.
Sam Curran, once again, stems the flow of runs. Only three off his sixth over.
OVER 37: SA 209/4 (Van der Dussen 76 Miller 14)
Rassie van der Dussen uses his feet to advance towards Moeen and creams a drive between extra cover and mid-off for four. He went unsold in the IPL auction having priced himself at £198,000. He would have been a useful squad player.
Miller, happy to play second fiddle so far, takes a single down to long on.
OVER 36: SA 202/4 (Van der Dussen 70 Miller 13)
VDD has decided to accelerate and lamps successive fours off Jofra Archer, the first off the back foot carved through point followed by a back-foot classically Caribbean drive blasted through cover. Archer's figures are 8-0-57-0. But who cares? It's been a long, long road back and there's still a way to go.
OVER 35: SA 191/4 (Van der Dussen 60 Miller 12)
Chris Woakes, on as a sub, almost takes a spectacular solo relay catch at long off but can't hang on as Miller cleared the boundary but no' but just. Woakes knew the ball was going over and tried to slap it back into play but couldn't get enough on it. It ends up being Miller's 100th six in ODIs. Moeen's figures balloon to 7-0-44-1
OVER 34: SA 181/4 (Van der Dussen 57 Miller 5)
Jofra has hit his straps now and delivers his best over of the match with five dot balls, tying Van der Dussen in knots with the short ball. He tries to play back foot drives to lifters in the channel but plays and misses at a couple then finds the fielder with poorly timed efforts subsequently.
OVER 33: SA 180/4 (Van der Dussen 57 Miller 4)
Double change. Moeen replaces Rashid to give the left-handed Miller an interrogation with the ball that turns away. And he beats him with a ripper first ball that gripped and fizzed away from Miller's hesitant prod. Miller gets off strike with a pat down to long on and a couple more singles are taken down the ground. Van der Dussen plays his premeditated reverse sweep to end the over, going down so early that Buttler raced across to first slip but the ball eludes him and carroms down to third man for two.
OVER 32: SA 175/4 (Van der Dussen 54 Miller 2)
Buttler brings Archer back on for the dangerous lefty David Miller. Van der Dussen puts Miller on strike with a positive defensive for a single and Archer puts him on the back foot for three deliveries before he gets away with a pull at armpit height to fine leg for a single. Two more singles end the over and on come the drinks.
OVER 31: SA 171/4 (Van der Dussen 52 Miller 0)
Rashid tosses the ball up a bit further for Klaasen and gets his reward. He's such an effective bowler, so vital for England.
Klaasen lbw b Rashid 30 In the last Rashid over Van der Dussen walked across his stumps to sweep and skelped it for four. This time Klaasen tries, is done by the flight and dip and is pinned in front of middle and off. FOW 171/4
🚨 WICKET 🚨
Klaasen tries to play the sweep and misses, with the ball striking his pads and him being given out lbw ❌ pic.twitter.com/XkhmYeAdHA
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) January 27, 2023
OVER 30: SA 168/3 (Van der Dussen 50 Klaasen 29)
Nice stroke by Heinrich Klaasen/Henrik Larsson, smacking Stone over midwicket for six on the pull. He seems to have more time to play Stone's short stuff than Van der Dussen. Bat speed and eye give him the advantage.
Van der Dussen brings up his fifty off his 63rd ball with a tip and run to mid-off, backing himself to beat the throw, which he does.
Will Macpherson writes from Bloemfontein
Rassie is such a consistent runscorer in this format of the game. Klassen has been in terrific form, too; England need to get this partnership broken. They're only two wickets away from Parnell, a competent bat at the head of a longish tail.
OVER 29: SA 160/3 (Van der Dussen 49 Klaasen 22)
The wat Klaasen steps back to the leg-spinner does give Rashid hope as well as exasperating him. Playing so late looks risky but so far his hands have been quick enough to deal with the turning ball. He pulls for a pair of singles and clips another through cover. Van der Dussen cuffs a sweep for four when Rashid errs on the short side at the end of the over. Looked a strange stroke, walking across to sweep but his timing was unimpeachable.
OVER 28: SA 151/3 (Van der Dussen 43 Klaasen 19)
Van der Dussen raises the 150 with a pull off his nose for a single. Stone, like Archer, is consistently around the 87mph mark, testing the batsmen all the time with a good line but contrasting lengths.
OVER 27: SA 149/3 (Van der Dussen 42 Klaasen 18)
KP is a very big fan of Klaasen, treating him to lavish praise for a shot that does deserve it off Rashid's drag down. He swivellled on to it like a top, and thrashed it into the long pasture at deep midwicket for six.
OVER 26: SA 140/3 (Van der Dussen 40 Klaasen 11)
Another respectable over from Olly Stone in these difficult middle overs. There was one aberration, a slow ball that did give Klaasen the freedom to extend his elbows and pull. He didn't get hold of it and flapped it over midwicket. Brook was too square to get there on the full but tried all the same before the ball plugged and restricted them for two.
OVER 25: SA 135/3 (Van der Dussen 38 Klaasen 8)
Van der Dussen sweeps Rashid for a single, Klaasen, favouring that back foot, chops a cut for a single, and VDD drives through mid on. Van der Dussen's bottom hand is 'choking the handle' according to Shaun Pollock. That firmness of grip does seem to stop him hitting the leg-spinner through midwicket
OVER 24: SA 130/3 (Van der Dussen 35 Klaasen 6)
Six singles are worked off Stone who is being auditioned for the Pudsey Plunkett role at the next World Cup. He imitates 2019's unsung hero with a shorter length than the rest, heavy balls and forcing them to hit him square without giving them the room to free their arms.
OVER 23: SA 124/3 (Van der Dussen 32 Klaasen 3)
Klaasen hunkers deep in his crease to play Rashid late, driving off the back foot for singles to cover and mid-off. Van der Dussen sweeps for a single then ends the over with an old-fashioned but increasingly off-menu Dilly Pie. VDD pirouettes and slaps the long-hop for four.
OVER 22: SA 117/3 (Van der Dussen 27 Klaasen 1)
Kevin Pietersen, with a touch of pots and kettles, says Markram was guilty of impatience there, trying to force it. Klaasen, at least initially, fares no better against Stone, failing to beat the ring at cover until he squeezes one through to the point sweeper for a single.
Markram c Malan b Stone 13 Olly Stone, who has also missed a year with a stress fracture, strikes with his first ball. It seemed to stick in the pitch and he chipped it to short cover. Malan took a fine catch at ankle height, diving full-length to his left. FOW 116/3
OVER 21: SA 116/2 (Van der Dussen 27 Markram 13)
Rashid carries on with his miserly spell. Neither seem to be able to pick him or work out how to counter the dip. They take a single apiece but look as if they're batting with shovels.
OVER 20: SA 114/2 (Van der Dussen 26 Markram 12)
A tale of two bouncers, the first widening Markram's eyes as it climbed, kept on going and forced him towards discretion. He looked gobsmacked by that one as if it were scarcely believable that a titchy 80mph merchant could get it up that high. But when Curran tries it again, it doesn't have as much propulsion off the pitch and Markram fetches it at shoulder height, rolling his wrists to swat it through midwicket for four.
OVER 19: SA 106/2 (Van der Dussen 24 Markram 7)
Time for Adil Rashid and South Africa, notoriously poor players of wrist spin, cannot make any headway. Van der Dussen tries to heave one over midwicket but didn't pick that it was the googly and drags it off the inside edge. No run. In fact there are only two singles from the over, Markram's to cover, Van der Dussen's virtually apologetic drive to mid-off mainly off the toe.
OVER 18: SA 104/2 (Van der Dussen 23 Markram 6)
Nearly for Sam Curran ... again with that deceptive bouncer. He cramps Van der Dussen who shaped to pull, could not abort in time and lost his grip, splicing it half a metre short of midwicket. He had more room to pull the previous delivery for two but that's Curran's skill, subtlety and guile there, giving him a seemingly similar opportunity but a little less room.
OVER 17: SA 100/2 (Van der Dussen 20 Markram 5)
Moeen carries on after the break. Van der Dussen almost came a cropper on the reverse sweep in MA's first over but he nails one this time around, brooming it very fine. Dawid Malan, hardly a hare in the field, does very well to chase it down and drag it back from the rope as they run three.
Markram tries to throw the kitchen sink, or everything but the kitchen sink as we used to say, at a slog to cow corner but inside edges it into the ground. He plays a more orthodox drive to the next off-break, pushing it for a single.
Will Macpherson reports
England have actually dragged this back pretty well after South Africa's excellent start. Moeen has been tidy enough but it's Curran who they have to thank; his three overs have cost just five and burgled the key wicket of de Kock.
OVER 16: SA 94/2 (Van der Dussen 16 Markram 3)
Curran looks as though he should be easy to play on this belter of a pitch but the smarts that have made him IPL's most expensive and well-rewarded cricketer shine through, varying his length, messing with the batsmen's timing, frustrating them to such an extent they can take only a single each.
Time for drinks and a rethink by the stifled SA batsmen.
OVER 15: SA 92/2 (Van der Dussen 15 Markram 2)
Buttler's ploy, bringing on Moeen and Curran, has worked spectacularly well, sharing two for 21 off their five overs. Moeen continues and they take him for five singles. It's harder to tie up two right-handers. Van der Dussen takes three singles between extra- and cover point, Markram gleans two to the cover sweeper and long off.
OVER 14: SA 87/2 (Van der Dussen 12 Markram 0)
Curran, like Willey, has a stock ball of about 80mph but he uses the short ball brilliantly, cramping up the left-hander and seducing him into pulling off his helmet badge. He out-thought him and executed it perfectly. De Kock can resist anything but temptation.
De Kock c Buttler b Curran 37 Bags him with the last ball of the over. Curran has been grunting with the exertion of banging the ball in but it all pays off when he gets one to climb over De Kock's helmet and sucker him into a hook. The ball keeps rising, kisses the top edge and Buttler takes the catch above his head. FOW 87/2
🚨 WICKET 🚨
A big scalp for England, Quinton de Kock is GONE ❌ pic.twitter.com/5m4mipRFKC
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) January 27, 2023
OVER 13: SA 86/1 (De Kock 37 Van der Dussen 11)
Moeen keeps the brakes on, forfeiting only three singles, both from Van der Dussen through cover point, De Kock's past long on.
OVER 12: SA 83/1 (De Kock 36 Van der Dussen 9)
Sam Curran, England's player of the T20 World Cup, replaces Archer and De Kock defends the first then chops a single behind point. Van der Dussen swivels to take a single with a short-arm pull but that's the only further damage to Curran's figures.
OVER 11: SA 81/1 (De Kock 35 Van der Dussen 8)
Van der Dussengets away with a misjudged reverse-sweep, Buttler cries 'Catch it!' when the ball loops up over short third man. Adil Rashid, who has made that position his own, sprints to his right but can't get there before it falls to earth safely.
Will Macpherson's verdict
A five-over spell is at least one more than I expected him to start with, but he looks in great shape. Ugly figures – 0-41 – but he bowled solidly, and his pace was good. This is an excellent batting track and SA have made a superb start.
OVER 10: SA 75/1 (De Kock 33 Van der Dussen 4)
Archer is given a fifth over and keeps his pace up in the high eighties. His temper matches his speed when, after opening with three dot balls, De Kock devours a short ball, clobbering it over deep backwards square for six. Archer pitches the next ball up and kicks the ground in exasperation when De Kock nails a straight drive for four.
OVER 9: SA 65/1 (De Kock 23 Van de Dussen 4)
De Kock defends then drills a single past Moeen. 'One man went to Mo' from the trumpeter greets the dismissal of Bavuma who threw it away. He opened his stance and moved his left foot out of the road to lace four past cover, tried the same past mid-on but didn't get hold of it. Moeen lured him on to the rocks with the previous delivery.
Enter Van der Dussen who plays a handsome cover drive for four, using his height to reach the non-turning off-break by bending his right knee.
Bavuma c Curran b Moeen 36 Fine diving catch at mid-on. Bavuma cleared his front leg and spooned it to the bowler's right. Curran skipped to his left and took it at knee height with a dive. FOW 61/1
🚨 WICKET 🚨
England take their first wicket thanks to Sam Curran's superb diving catch 👏 pic.twitter.com/DxLlzLL3EA
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) January 27, 2023
OVER 8: SA 56/0 (De Kock 22 Bavuma 32)
Bavuma is enjoying himself and gorging on anything on his legs. Archer's angle takes it on to the opener's toes and he echoes Madam Cyn by whipping it through midwicket with the rotation of right wrist. England have determined that the ball is sitting up from the quicks, so turn to Moeen Ali, principally to try to eke the left-handed De Kock out. But Bavuma may make hay against an offie in the Powerplay.
OVER 7: SA 51/0 (De Kock 21 Bavuma 28)
Willey wrests back some control for five deliveries, giving up only five singles but when he goes for that fuller length again and veers on to Bavuma's pads, the South Africa captain, whose leadership and place have been under threat given they need to win their next five ODIs to take that automatic qualification place for the World Cup, pans it for four. Shot! That's the fifty partnership. The pitch is an absolute road and the new ball is coming on beautifully.
Will Macpherson reports from Bloemfontein
Not much of a crowd in at the moment, but expecting more later. Mainly England fans in. Bloemfontein has been a bit starved of top-class cricket but it's a pleasant venue. A day game on Sunday should attract a decent crowd.
Jofra Archer let out a big moan when South Africa pinched a single in that last over, his third. Next ball would have been even more frustrating as Temba Bavuma top-edged a six in no control whatsoever. Archer has done little wrong, but is travelling at almost nine an over! Tough gig for the bowlers today, and an excellent start for South Africa.
OVER 6: SA 44/0 (De Kock 19 Bavuma 23)
Archer tries a short one and Bavuma is in like Flynn. Bavuma may lack height but, like most vertically challenged batsmen, is a good hooker, collaring it for four in front of the square leg umpire. He middled that pull but not the one off the last ball of the over as Archer persists with the short stuff. It flies off the top edge over third man for six!
OVER 5: SA 31/0 (De Kock 18 Bavuma 12)
De Kock and Bavuma are making this look easy, or the pitch is. Any errors in line and length are being punished and De Kock thumps four through cover.
OVER 4: SA 26/0 (De Kock 14 Bavuma 11)
Bavuma invests everything in a cover drive when Archer overpitches but doesn't middle it and scrapes two past point. Archer looks as smooth as he ever did and gets one to nip back into Bavuma, striking him above the knee. England ponder a review after their fruitless appeal but decide against it ... wisely. It was both too high and nipping down.
After Bavuma steals a single to cover off a misfield, De Kock creams a straight drive for four.
OVER 3: SA 18/0 (De Kock 10 Bavuma 8)
Willey strays on to Bavuma's pads and South Africa's captain clips two firmly off his legs. Willey is swinging the ball but straining to get it above 80mph. He fires one into Bavuma's ribs from over the wicket but the batsman has time to rock back and pull it fine for two more, Olly Stone's dive and claw-back on the rope saving two more. Bavuma looks in decent nick, taking an off and middle or off-stump guard to counter Willey's swing. He chips a flick over midwicket for three then De Kock pumps two more down the ground. No boundaries but a productive over.
OVER 2: SA 9/0 (De Kock 8 Bavuma 1)
How I've missed this. He tosses the ball up, flicking it with his wrist high to catch it again at the end of his run, then glides in. He starts at 87mph in the channel and Bavuma gets off the mark with a thick edge down to third man. De Kock leaves a couple slanted across him at the same pace, nice upright seam, until Archer overpitches and De Kock rifles a drive straight past the bowler in his followthrough for four. Lovely shot.
OVER 1: SA 4/0 (De Kock 4 Bavuma 0)
Looks a good pitch with bounce and carry. Touch of swing for Willey, who has left Yorkshire to return to Northants over the winter. De Kock defends the first ball and lets two more go down the corridor as Jersualem resounds around the ground.
Willey straightens from sixth-stump to fourth, forcing De Kock to play but he cannot pierce the ring with push through midwicket and a drive to mid-off. Willey's last ball is loose, short and wide and De Kock cracks a cut through Roy at point for four.
Jofra Archer has the other new ball. Thank goodness.
Will Macpherson reports
We have to wait an over at least to see Archer, with David Willey takng the first. It's a cool England attack, actually, with two genuine quicks, two left-arm swingers, and two spinners.
The players are out
Quinton de Kock is marking out his guard and the new ball will be taken by
Jofra Dave Willey. Bah!
Will Macpherson reports from Bloemfontein
Greetings from Mangaung Oval, which is a lovely old thing, with nice grass banks and one whopping old stand that serves as a bit of a throwback. The massive great rugby stadium is right next door.
It's a beautiful day here and, while there have been storms in the last two evenings, the weather is set fair. The place looks full of runs to me, with a straw coloured pitch and the boundaries brought in. Certainly the England boys had little trouble clearing them at training yesterday.
Jofra Archer has been marking out his run up, which is just so exciting. Wonderful to have him back. He has been visibility excited all week.
Teams – Jofra returns
South Africa Quinton de Kock (wk), Temba Bavuma (capt), Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Wayne Parnell, Kagiso Rabada, Sisanda Magala, Tabraiz Shamsi, Anrich Nortje.
England Jason Roy, Dawid Malan, Ben Duckett, Jos Buttler (capt & wk), Harry Brook, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, David Willey, Jofra Archer, Adil Rashid, Olly Stone.
South Africa have won the toss
And have decided to bat first.
Good morning and welcome to live coverage of the first ODI of a three-match series between South Africa and England rescheduled from 2020 and the height of the pandemic. For England, there is a distinct whiff of contractual obligation about this series yet it gives them a chance to give Jofra Archer a relatively soft return to international cricket after 20 months out with stress fractures in his elbow and vertebrae. They can also blood Harry Brook, who played so well in T20s and Tests in Pakistan and have a look at their wider resources as they build towards their defence of the 50-over World Cup in October.
Jason Roy has been a talismanic figure at the top of the England white-ball order for several years and was so instrumental in them winning the 2019 World Cup, returning in the nick of time for the victories over India, Australia and the tie with New Zealand. But his form has been pretty rotten since they tried to make him into a Test batsman and the decline has been so precipitous recently that he was dropped for England's T20 World Cup-winning campaign. He still has a lot of credit in the bank but it is 14 international innings since his last fifty while he has averaged 12.5 this month in the SA20.
For South Africa, a series victory is vital in their quest for points to seal automatic qualification for the World Cup. They are in danger of missing out and being forced to qualify in Zimbabwe. They have a settled side but now need to kick on and find an off the cuff attacking style to overtake their characteristically methodical approach.