ALEX HALES laid the foundation and then Jos Buttler, England’s match-winner in the first match at Bloemfontein, played another key innings to give England victory by 5 wickets with 22 balls to spare over the Castle Lager Proteas in the second Momentum ODI at St. George’s Park on Saturday.England thus lead the five-match series 2-0 and have the chance to take an unbeatable lead in the third match at SuperSport Park on Tuesday. The match was effectively won and lost in the final 10 overs of both innings. The Proteas were on 198/3 at the end of 40 overs after winning the toss with AB de Villiers and JP Duminy both well set. However, both were dismissed within the space of four deliveries, De Villiers falling to a brilliant catch for the second time in the series and the Proteas were only able to add 64/4 in their final 10 overs. It left them probably a good 20 runs short of where they needed to be and so it turned out as England, on 198/4 after 40 overs, only lost one more wicket in completing the job. Buttler (48 not out off 28 balls, 4 fours and 3 sixes) and Moeen Ali put on an unbroken 61 for the sixth wicket in only 5 overs. One over from Kyle Abbott went for 16 runs and another from Imran Tahir went for 21 to break the back of the target. The finish was perfectly set up for Buttler by Hales who shared partnerships of 97 with Joe Root and 52 with Eoin Morgan. He was named Momentum Man of the match for his innings of 99 (124 balls, 8 fours), being cruelly denied a century by a delivery from Abbott that hit his pad and then clipped his bat on the way through to the keeper. Abbott (3/58) finished with the best bowling figures for South Africa with Morne Morkel taking 2/31.
Reece Topley, dismissing Hashim Amla up front and then getting 3 more wickets in the final 10 overs, was the pick of the England attack (4/50). The fact that England had three major partnerships while the Proteas only had one – a century stand between De Villiers and Duminy – was another key factor in the outcome.