South Africa v England, 2nd ODI, Port Elizabeth February 6, 2016

Hales 99, Buttler blows put England 2-0 up


England 263 for 5 (Hales 99, Buttler 48*) beat South Africa 262 for 7 (de Villiers 73, Topley 4-50) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

St George's Park, the oldest of South Africa's international venues, stayed true to its nature by overseeing a one-day international with an old-fashioned flavour on an inhibiting surface. A keenly-fought affair, in which both innings seemed locked together throughout, had the makings of a last-over nail-biter. Instead, thanks to Jos Buttler's sudden lift of tempo, it fell England's way by five wickets with 20 balls to spare.

Inhibitions? Not when you have just won your first IPL contract and are nearly £400,000 richer. Buttler gave the impression he would have played just as freely on the cobbled streets of his native Somerset as he logged an unbeaten 48 from 28 balls.

Three successive fours off Kyle Abbott, the first of them streaky (where was South Africa's slip?) then three sixes in a row off Imran Tahir in the following over sent England scooting to victory. South Africa's pace bowling had gone up a notch since their defeat in Bloemfontein but they now trail 2-0 in the five-match series.

It was Alex Hales' 99 from 124 balls that placed England for victory, although there was work to be done when he was fifth out with 59 needed from 52 balls - caught down the leg side pulling at Abbott with visions of a hundred. Front-foot pushes and crafted singles had supplanted what has become the common avalanche of sixes but the incoming Buttler recognised only a day of dreamy blue skies.

Hales has played more exciting innings, he has played fine innings in more draining conditions, but this was one of his most judicious ODI affairs. The Test series did not advertise the emergence of a rounder game, but his selectivity did here. With the exception of AB de Villiers, whose 73 from 91 balls was a notable return to form, he managed the conditions better than anybody.

Abbott, fit again after hamstring trouble, put in a combative shift, a bowler of great physicality, nipping one through to gate to bowl Jason Roy for 14 - Norton anti-virus would insist on a patch to stem that weakness. Root was at his most conservative, labouring 64 balls over 38 before he tried to advance to Abbott and deflected a rising ball into his stumps.

Eoin Morgan came in at No 4 - shrewdly, no promotion for Buttler on this occasion with grafting to be done - and kept England in touch with the rate with judicious sixes against Imran Tahir and Farhaan Behardien before Morkel defeated his blow-down-the-ground shot with a wide cutter.

Stokes' fate was an eventful duck. Tahir nearly had him twice in an over, sweep and reverse sweep both failing in turn with a review needed to spare him on the second occasion. In the next over he deflected Morkel into his stumps. The pressure was on England, but not, it became evident, on Buttler.

Financially, Chris Morris was even better served than Buttler by the IPL auction - he was sitting on a cool million dollars after a bidding frenzy that eventually saw him move to Delhi Daredevils. No matter: he had to watch from the outer. South Africa, seemingly of different persuasion, dropped both him and his Bloemfontein new-ball partner Marchant de Lange.

The match did not turn solely on Buttler's late merrymaking - Chris Jordan also played a crucial part in South Africa's innings. De Villiers came into the match with three successive ducks to end the Test series and 8 in the opening ODI, but he did the hard yards, his form flooded back and he signalled his intentions as South Africa reached the last 10 overs by lashing Jordan over midwicket for six.

But Jordan is a multi-faceted cricketer, dangerous with the bat, outperformed by few at slip and in the deep, and when de Villiers failed to middle another mighty hit over the leg side off Ben Stokes in the following over, Jordan was equal to the challenge.

It was a hugely difficult catch, a white ball falling out of a blue sky, a swirling breeze strong enough to fleck the sea and shake the branches of the trees outside the ground holding the ball just within range: Jordan's range anyway as he dashed back full tilt to take the ball over his shoulder at mid-on with remarkable poise.

De Villiers had built his own stage in the early part of South Africa's innings but the final onslaught which could have carried the game away from England never materialised. Only 64 came from the last 10 - respectable but not a game changer.

By the 20th over, South Africa had been three down for 98, Hashim Amla bowled when Reece Topley's semblance of inswing developed into something straighter, Quinton de Kock's bountiful run of form ended when Stokes had him lbw with a fullish delivery, and du Plessis' confident innings fell just short of a half-century when Adil Rashid found drift and turn to have him caught at slip.

Rashid and Moeen Ali throttled the mid-innings, both stints completed by the 37th over. That left a lot of onus on Jordan, and he could have done without Buttler spilling a very acceptable catch, one-handed to his left, when JP Duminy tried to run him to third man on 37. Five overs for 33 did not flatter him, but the catch released him from his troubles and Topley, maintaining a full length, squeezed South Africa to a chaseable total.

A slow pitch was to get slower still. The breeze was lifting. The match was in the balance. Hales got a break on 17 when he scrunched a full toss from Tahir into no-man's land and played with great responsibility. Then came Buttler, the liveliest breeze of all.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on February 9, 2016, 16:02 GMT

    @5WOMBATS ON FEBRUARY 9, 2016, 9:01 GMT - I actually find his posts quite amusing these days. We had repetitive posts during the Ashes about getting thrashed in UAE and SA and although we were beaten 2-0 we weren't that far away from saving one of the games we lost and were agonisingly close to winning the 1st test. It was funny how he never noticed SA were weakened until they started losing etc . He always lives in the past or the future but never the present unless of course we're struggling. Thing is that few of us pretend Eng are a model of consistency or pretend we don't have issues with lack of a decent spin bowler or an opening partner for Cook. No one pretends SA are the same side of a few years ago either

  • John on February 9, 2016, 9:09 GMT

    @DSA - Maybe they won't ever drop LM but I'd say pretty much any long term underperforming player is not guaranteed a place , such is the competition for places. I believe one year MI spent massive on Maxwell and then hardly played him. Yes IPL past form is more relevant to T20 franchises but maybe they also see current form as a selection basis? I'd say they probably take both into the equation. It's actually quite ironic that you lambast our fans for commenting on Buttler's IPL selection but at least they regularly follow Buttler in white ball cricket. Ironic because when you lambasted me for my continual criticism of Samit Patel's selection in the UAE and SA squads , I cited that he ticked no boxes to deserve his place inc domestic form in recent seasons and you said you didn't follow his CC form. So it's fine for you to make comms without knowing relevant form but not for others.

  • Martin on February 9, 2016, 9:01 GMT

    @JG2704 on February 8, 2016, 8:34 GMT - I've just read @cricketsubh comment again and it's just more of the usual from him. In that wonderfully imaginative way he describes a "powerful bating line up like India". He can't be describing india as having a "powerful batting line up" - because they don't. Powerful batting line ups don't lose series at home to South Africa in ODI and T20 format. Powerful batting line ups don't lose ODI series at home to Pakistan. Powerful batting line ups don't lose ODI series away in places like Bangladesh. Powerful batting line ups don't fall apart like at Canberra where in india went from 1/277 to 323 all out. @cricketsubh is living in a world of pure imagination if he thinks india have a "powerful batting line up". They don't. Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sings, "come with me and you'll be in a world of pure imagination....". @cricketsubh clearly works in the Factory....

  • Devinderpal Singh on February 8, 2016, 17:41 GMT

    Don't take offence to this, but why do some English comms think so much of English players that they have a divine right to overtake proven IPL players and disrupt the delicate balance of a team's composition, so they can be included? The ECB's echo-chamber (you know) must keep up those pretences (like Hales last year, even when Simmons was going well), but online English comms don't have to. Overall, Buttler will be warming the bench, missing part of the county season in doing so. For Billings, it is even tougher (my comments, if published, in the Billings article show this). However, if Rashid had entered the auction, with a low base price, he would have almost certainly taken Zampa's spot with Pune, especially as Zampa was only bought due to BBL performances, where Rashid out-performed him, and bats better too. He might not have been bought in the 1st round, but if Zampa can get bought in the 2nd, there is no reason why Rashid wouldn't be. I know that's supposition but... P4 of 4.

  • Devinderpal Singh on February 8, 2016, 17:23 GMT

    Buttler will have to rely on injuries to Patel or 2 overseas batsmen, not bowlers. Mumbai should not disrupt their tournament-winning balance, just for Buttler. That would be foolish. I don't foresee Mumbai changing anything to begin with, subject to injury.

    "...I think this format lends itself to current form rather than past performances". DURING the tournament, yes, but at the start, they, especially Mumbai, have no reason to try untested players FIRST. Mumbai will not make the mistake of dropping Simmons for someone else again, like last season, despite his 2014 season. They have learnt...I think. Only if the tried and tested fail will the squad players then be introduced. Even in that case, Buttler is still low in the list. Also, if a team is likely to finish in top 2, after about 11 match, they may rotate, for contingency planning in the final 4 stage.

    One should also consider Mumbai and their mentality, as a franchise. P2 of 4.

  • Devinderpal Singh on February 8, 2016, 17:21 GMT

    @jg2704: "Non IPL followers can be forgiven for not rating him for what they see from Brisbane heat or for WI at times". Regardless of what he does (or does not) do for Brisbane or the West Indies, he has proven himself for Mumbai, and that, ultimately, is all that matters, regarding selection for the MI. Also, on a matter of basic validity, why would non-IPL followers comment on his selection for the IPL? Lol. An excuse to dismiss his achievements with MI, to justify their favourites?

    Buttler does seem to be exceptional, but regardless, he is unproven in India. Some believed Finch was a better choice than Simmons in 2015, and how did that work out for both parties?

    I think you're clutching at straws if you think Buttler will replace Malinga. A batsmen for a bowler? Nop. If Malinga and McClenaghan don't start together, then Malinga's replacement will be M.M, Southee or Corey. Malinga also has brand value as a long-established MI player. Buttler does not have that, does he? P1 of 4.

  • Dean on February 8, 2016, 9:26 GMT

    @Alex Thomas, I don't think replacing Woakes with Jordan is going to strengthen the side. Jordan has a better bowling ave & SR & they have a similar ER. It's probably not fair to judge either man's batting as they both bat down the order and rarely get the chance to bat for a sustained period, although Woakes has a better ave Jordan has a considerably better SR. As for Footitt, the selectors may have considered him when Plunkett got injured but they probably felt with Topley & Willey they already had enough Left armers.

  • John on February 8, 2016, 8:50 GMT

    @DSA - Simmons looks like he saves his best form for IPL. Non IPL followers can be forgiven for not rating him for what they see from Brisbane heat or for WI at times and I don't think it's Buttler bias , just that Buttler is doing the business in white ball stuff with greater regularity these days and I think is a special talent. Re him getting games - I hope he does and he flourishes. However competition is fierce for places and if Buttler gets a gig it could even be someone like Mallinga (who has not looked AS effective in recent times , from games I've seen him appear in that misses out. I think all the franchises have class players who on their day are world beaters and they can't play them all so I think this format lends itself to current form rather than past performances. Regardless , it's a huge boost for Jos to fetch more money than his white ball captain and the former Eng great and IPL darling

  • paul on February 8, 2016, 8:45 GMT

    @MrCricket_Eng Don't bother mate, it seems a completely alien concept to an Aussie to have different pitches do different things in the same Country.If someone had watched the last 4 English Ashes, theyd know they do. I remember when Aussie pitches were a bit like that, shame that drop in pitches have ruined all that. Trent Bridge has for years been the most seam & swing friendly pitch in the Country, there's a reason Jimmy averages about 18 there. General rule of thumb, all English pitches can offer something to quicks if the overheads are helping but traditionally the past decade Trent Bridge, Edgbaston and the Riverside are the best to bowl on. Oval and Headingley used to be good fast bowling Test pitches but the Oval has lost it's juice and Headingley you have to rely on it being overcast to get the ball to swing. Pitches will turn but it's only when we have warm summers , like we did in 2013. Always tell England are doing well,with the amount of other teams 'fans' trollin

  • John on February 8, 2016, 8:34 GMT

    @5WOMBATS ON FEBRUARY 7, 2016, 10:26 GMT - I think CMs post is actually quite well thought out and he is giving us credit

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