Jos Buttler and Harry Brook give England hope of levelling ODI series
Jos Buttler’s unbeaten 94 off 82 balls and Harry Brook’s 80 off 75 deliveries underpinned England’s 342 for seven in the second ODI against South Africa at Bloemfontein.
Brook led the recovery from 33 for two with some lusty blows in his maiden ODI fifty after a duck on debut two days ago, when the middle-order misfired as England threw away victory in the series opener.
Moeen Ali made 51 off 45 balls – his first ODI half-century since September 2017 – but Buttler was the mainstay of the innings, flogging eight fours and three sixes in this penultimate encounter.
He fell six runs short of an 11th ODI hundred but his efforts, allied to that of Brook and Moeen – with Sam Curran chipping in with a cameo 28 off 17 balls – have given them hope of levelling the series.
Jason Roy made an international career-saving century on Friday but failed to get out of single figures here as South Africa seamers Wayne Parnell and Lungi Ngidi capitalised on prodigious early movement.
Having already overturned an lbw decision against him, Roy was castled by a fuller delivery that hooped back and squeezed through bat and pad from Ngidi, who had set up the opener with two back-of-a-length away swingers.
Dawid Malan was rapped on the knee roll and given lbw off Parnell, and Ben Duckett and Brook had to weather a testing examination as the ball beat the bat on a few occasions and there were a few streaky edges.
Brook showed no hesitation in going after some short-pitched bowling from Anrich Nortje, carting a 90mph delivery for six, but missed a heave later in the over.
In attempting to make a diving stop, the ball thudded in Quinton de Kock’s right thumb, with the wicketkeeper unable to continue as Heinrich Klaasen took on the gloves. Cricket South Africa later confirmed an X-ray revealed no fracture and he has been cleared to bat.
De Kock’s replacement in the field, Janneman Malan, was swiftly into the action to gobble up Duckett’s loose shot off Keshav Maharaj.
While Buttler was into his stride with a reverse sweep for four off Maharaj, the England captain was content to swim in Brook’s slipstream. Either side of getting to a first ODI fifty, the Yorkshireman rocked back and launched Maharaj over the shorter boundary on one side.
But in attempting to do likewise to Aiden Markram, Brook’s bat turned in his hand and he was caught at deep cover. Brook reacted by punching his blade in frustration at missing out on a maiden ODI hundred.
Buttler dismissively clattered Markram over wide long-off en route to a 49-ball fifty.
Moeen made a watchful start, taking 10 off his first 19 balls, but he freed his arms off Maharaj with a huge swipe and was soon finding the rope with more regularity with some fine drives.
Klaasen conceded five penalty runs for the ball hitting his glove after he had removed it with South Africa showing signs of unravelling, although Moeen inside-edged Nortje onto his stumps to end an entertaining 106-run stand with Buttler.
Buttler smoked Ngidi, who was taken for successive sixes by Curran in an over where he conceded 23 which carried England past 300 as England added 94 runs in the last 10 overs.
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