Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hales, Buttler Power England to Consecutive Wins

After the high scoring affair at Bloemfontein where England powered to 399 before de Kock put South Africa on course for a victory only to be denied by the rain and D/L method, Port Elizabeth promised a much more sedate affair with the slow pitch on offer.

South Africa won the toss and elected to bat first after making two changes, Rabada and Abbott coming in for Morris and de Lange which surely bolstered their bowling attack.

In the first ODI, Amla was bowled off Willey and this time it was Topley who got through his defences to get him for just four. South Africa scored only 12 in the first six overs but then both de Kock and du Plessis got on with it and South Africa were on 52-1 after 10. De Kock went leg before to Stokes after losing a review for 22 off 33 balls while du Plessis fell just short of his half century falling to one from Rashid that gripped and turned to take the edge. Du Plessis made 46 from 48 balls and South Africa were 98-3 in 20 overs. By this time Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid had turned the squeeze on, South Africa ambling to 135-3 after 30 overs.

It was a slow surface with the ball coming on after holding in the pitch a bit and hence made timing difficult. Even the highly skilled AB de Villiers was finding the navigation on this pitch difficult, reaching 65 off 87 balls with just four boundaries. He broke the shackles when he smashed a six off Jordan but when he tried to repeat the shot off Stokes, Jordan pulled off a blinder catching a steepler over his shoulders. When Duminy and Rossouw fell in successive Topley overs, South Africa had lost whatever hopes they would have had of having a late burst. In the end they could only muster 64-4 in the last 10 to reach 262-7 in their 50 overs.

Jason Roy started brightly again but his innings was cut short by a full in ducker that rattled his stumps, Abbott doing the damage. The already slow pitch was getting slower and batting was getting more and more difficult, England reached their hundred only in the 23rd over. Root was out there adjusting to the pitch and he made a painful 38 off 64 balls before Abbott cleaned him up too with the help of an inside edge. English skipper Eoin Morgan was sprightlier in his 29 off 28 balls before he was caught by de Villiers off Morkel. Morkel then got Stokes as well, cleaning him up off an inside edge for nought, after he had survived a leg before appeal off Tahir with the help of DRS.

England needed 65 off the final ten overs with a well set Hales at the crease and Jos Buttler just joining him. Hales gloved a catch to de Kock off the impressive Abbott to fall for 99 made off 124 balls but the hero of the first match for England Jos Buttler biffed 3 fours off the 44th over and then clobbered 3 sixes off the 46th to kill the chase. He made a peppy 48* off just 28 balls on a difficult pitch, on which no batsmen from either side could come to terms with.

So, the English side is 2-0 up in the 5 match series and how the Protea team responds to this situation will be interesting to see in the next week. England have looked very good so far and South Africa will have their task cut out if they are to salvage something out of this series.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

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