Dawid Malan and Jos Buttler hit hundreds as England fight back in South Africa
Hundreds from Dawid Malan and Jos Buttler in a sensational 232-run partnership in 211 balls bailed England out of trouble in the third and final ODI against South Africa.
Bidding to avoid a series clean sweep and a sixth successive loss in this format, England lurched to 14 for three as Lungi Ngidi snared Jason Roy, Ben Duckett and Harry Brook on a two-paced Kimberley pitch.
Malan (118 off 114 balls) and Buttler (131 off 127 balls) rebuilt slowly but gradually flowered, peppering the shorter straight boundaries, sharing 13 of England’s 19 sixes in their 346 for seven.
While Malan was dropped on 27 and 46, his was a crucial knock in a record fourth-wicket stand in ODIs for England, who added 217 in the last 20 overs.
Ngidi caused carnage at the top of the England order, breaking through in the second over when Roy tentatively reached out and chipped to mid-off having twice missed with full-blooded drives.
While Duckett was surprised by the extra bounce and top-edged through to Heinrich Klaasen, Brook was undone by the lack of it as he under-edged a cut behind, giving Ngidi three for eight from his first four-over spell.
The tricky nature of the uneven surface was exemplified by England being 20 for three after 10 overs while Buttler took 14 balls to get off nought, doing so with a back-foot cut for four off Marco Jansen.
Malan’s first four came off his 48th delivery while two balls later he grazed the fingertips of Aiden Markram after pulling Tabraiz Shamsi’s googly hard to midwicket.
While the ball was turning, the introductions of spinners Markram and Shamsi released a pressure valve. Buttler gave an indication of what was to come by clattering Markram straight over the shorter straight boundary.
It was not until the halfway point of their innings that England reached three figures and were on 129 for three after 30 overs, after Buttler had brought up the 100-run stand with a 105-metre six off Shamsi.
But Malan, dropped again when Shamsi spilled a diving return catch, went to fifty with a pulled six off Parnell and then pressed the accelerator with six-four-six as he took advantage of Jansen dropping short.
Having played more of the anchoring role, Malan overtook Buttler although the pair continued to find the boundary rope with increasing regularity and reached 106-ball tons in the same over off Sisanda Magala.
Malan capitalised when Ngidi dropped short, muscling him over cow corner twice in an over to spoil the fast bowler’s figures. Magala was then taken the distance by Buttler but the mammoth partnership was ended later in the over when a slower ball caught Malan’s leading edge and ballooned to Klaasen.
Moeen Ali had an entertaining 23-ball cameo of 41, including four sixes, the first of which off Shamsi over long-on came after he attempted a one-handed reverse sweep off the left-arm wrist-spinner.
Moeen took England beyond 300 with back-to-back sixes off Ngidi but had his leg-stump taken out by the fast bowler while a tiring Buttler thumped Jansen to long-on.
England’s innings lost some momentum in the final couple of overs but they are still up to what looks a competitive total at halfway.
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