|Second one-day international, Bloemfontein:|
|England 342-7 (50 overs): Buttler 94*, Brook 80|
|South Africa 347-5 (49.1 overs): Bavuma 109, Miller 58*|
|South Africa won by five wickets|
England’s bowlers failed to defend 342 as Temba Bavuma’s century helped South Africa to victory in the second one-day international to clinch the series 2-0 with one to play.
Jos Buttler’s unbeaten 94 off 82 balls had been the backbone of England’s total, while Harry Brook made an impressive 80.
But England’s attack struggled to make inroads at key moments as South Africa skipper Bavuma’s 109 off 102 balls laid the foundation for the chase.
David Miller’s unbeaten 58 got the hosts over the line with five balls and five wickets to spare as they completed their third-highest ODI chase.
It could prove to be a crucial victory in the Proteas’ bid to secure automatic qualification for the World Cup later this year via the ICC Super League.
Asked to bat first, England recovered from a spell of hostile bowling, which left them 33-2, thanks to crucial knocks by Brook and Buttler.
Moeen Ali played a useful hand with a 45-ball 51 as he shared a 106-run stand with Buttler for the fifth wicket before South Africa’s bowlers rallied.
England were pegged back at the business end of the innings, although Buttler and Sam Curran (28) provided an explosive finish, striking 30 off the last two overs.
Bavuma played with freedom en route to his 90-ball century but, having struggled with cramp in the latter part of his innings, was bowled by Curran.
Rassie van der Dussen (38) and Aiden Markram (49) played useful supporting roles, backed up by a composed knock by Miller off 37 balls as he sealed victory with a thumping six off the first ball of the final over.
Bowlers struggle as England suffer fifth straight ODI loss
Alarm bells are not quite ringing for England’s limited-overs coach and captain just yet, especially in light of the fact a number of key personnel are not involved in this series.
However, there is no sugar-coating the fact five consecutive ODI defeats makes for slightly uncomfortable reading as Matthew Mott and Buttler attempt to mastermind a defence of a World Cup won so dramatically on home turf in 2019.
England’s bowlers, in particular, struggled with Chris Woakes (0-60) and Reece Topley (0-74) and Moeen Ali (0-32) all expensive as Buttler was forced to shuffle his pack frequently.
Olly Stone (2-48) was comfortably the most economical as his pace threatened, while Adil Rashid (2-72) bowled well in patches.
That should take nothing away from South Africa’s performance as they backed up their 27-run win on the same ground in the first ODI with a gritty display with the ball, and composed batting spearheaded by Bavuma’s positive intent.
Their victory boosted their own hopes of guaranteeing a place at the World Cup in India later this year and they will look to secure a clean sweep in the final ODI at the The Oval in Kimberley on Wednesday, before two more ODIs against the Netherlands later in the year.
Multi-format Brook measures up
One bright spot for England was the performance of Brook.
There is a wealth of options in England’s batting department and with eight months until the World Cup in India every ODI between now and then is an audition of sorts.
Brook’s burgeoning multi-format talent has already made an impression in T20I and Test cricket, but a three-ball duck in the first ODI was an inauspicious start to the 50-over game.
Foisted into the midst of a tense opening spell by Lungi Ngidi and Wayne Parnell in the seventh over, he might have wilted here, but Brook’s stoicism and technique helped him guide England to a competitive total.
The manner in which he then deftly used the depth of the crease against the left-arm spin of Keshav Maharaj, launching him for two sixes, was especially impressive having carefully picked his moments to be aggressive.
Equally he rose to the challenge posed by South Africa’s pace attack, scoring all around the wicket and knowing when to play full-blooded hooks and when to control them.
A maiden ODI century was there for the taking only for Brook’s exuberance, and a touch of over-confidence perhaps, to get the better of him against Markram’s part-time off-breaks.
He will be kicking himself not to have reached the milestone and also ensured his contribution was one which defined the match in the tourists’ favour.
‘Chasing 340 will give us a lot of confidence’ – reaction
England captain Jos Buttler: “South Africa bowled really well early on, so to come back and post 340 was a fantastic effort from the guys.
“It was a terrific game and a great chase.”
South Africa captain and player of the match Temba Bavuma: “It is very special. Playing against England is always a tough ask. Your disciplines are always being tested and it is a good opportunity for us to test our way of playing. Chasing 340 like that will give us a lot of confidence. It was a good day and a good outing for us.”
On his innings of 109: “It was very enjoyable. These wickets are actually quite nice and suit the way we want to play. I’ve reminded myself how to get to a hundred too and I hope I can build on it.”