England 201 (Livingstone 38, Curran 35, Pretorius 4-36) beat South Africa 83 (Klaasen 33, Rashid 3-29) by 118 runs
Rain shortened match? Sure. 72 for 5 in the 12th over? No problem. Series on the line? That’s okay.
England’s effort in the field more than made up for what-seemed a haphazard performance with the bat. They were bowled out with five balls remaining against a crafty South African attack after their top-order went too hard too early in an innings that was not ODI-length but not quite T20. In the end, they relied on cameos by Livingstone and Curran, who hit all but one of their team’s seven sixes, to set them up to top 200.
Jason Roy was determined to swing his way through his innings and got three fours away before Anrich Nortje cramped him for room and he sent the ball to Pretorius at mid-wicket. Roy has gone five innings without fifty, since his century against Netherlands exactly a month ago.
Roy dismissal brought Phil Salt to the crease, in his seventh ODI and in the absence of the now-retired Ben Strokes and he rubbed it in Lungi Ngidi’s wounds when he whipped Ngidi through fine leg, then edged him short of de Kock and then over a vacant slip area for four. Ngidi’s first spell cost 28 runs and revealed nothing about the questions he asked the England line-up with his slower ball. Instead, it’s Pretorius who got the answers.
In his first over, Pretorius had Salt caught at mid-wicket by a diving Miller, a wicket which was confirmed on umpire’s review, and then struck twice in his second to leave England reeling. Joe Root skipped down the track and swiped at a Pretorius delivery, which he top-edged in front of and to the left of de Kock and, two balls later, Bairstow was bowled by a ball that pitched on off and wobbled back in to beat his flick and hit middle stump.
Pretorius had three wickets for nine runs in his first two overs and almost claimed a fourth when Moeen edged him wide of a diving de Kock. With no slip in place, Moeen survived but not for too much longer. In the next over, he picked out Nortje on the deep square boundary off Maharaj to leave England on 72 for 5 before the final specialist, Shamsi, had got in on the action.
For the second match in succession, Buttler tried to take Shamsi on and for the second time, he failed. Buttler advanced down the track and tried to hit Shamsi down the ground for six but got an outside edge to Pretorius at short third. And then England found their oomph. Curran first sent Maharaj and then Shamsi over their heads for six and Livingstone plundered 22 runs off the first four balls of Nortje’s third over. Livingstone sent 90mph deliveries off Nortje over square leg, mid-wicket and fine leg and then nicked him through third for four.
When Livingstone hit Nortje to mid-wicket, England still had Curran, who had one more burst against Shamsi. In a display of power-hitting, Curran sent Shamsi down the ground for successive fours and a six before holing out to long-off to end an 18-ball 35.
Pretorius finally picked up his fourth when Willey swung him to deep mid-wicket, the ball after hitting him over long-off for six. At the innings break, many may have thought that would be the best performance on the day. How wrong they were.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent