Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent
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England 337 for 5 (Dunkley 107, Tryon 2-34) beat South Africa 223 (Kapp 73, Dean 4-53) by 114 runs
Sophia Dunkley, promoted to No.3 in this series, scored her first ODI hundred to seal the series for England, with a game to spare. Dunkley's three-figure knock, along with fifty-plus scores from the other three in the top four, gave England their second-highest total against South Africa, and asked their visitors to complete their highest-successful ODI chase to draw level in the three-match rubber. Despite Laura Wolvaardt's fastest half-century in the format, the South African line-up lacked substantial partnerships and fell far short.
England's batters have dominated the contest so far and, on a good run-scoring surface in Bristol, inflicted more pain on a side they beat here in the World Cup semi-final five years ago, almost to the day. England had century-stands for first and third wickets, both the third-highest in their respective positions for England against South Africa which book-ended their innings and finished with 105 runs in the last 10 overs and 46 in the final five.
They took advantage of another lacklustre performance from the South African attack who, even with pace spearhead Shabnim Ismail back, lacked intensity and control. Ismail (too full) and Kapp (too wide) struggled to find their lines and lengths and with the seniors struggling, the rest of the attack could only apply pressure in patches. They prevented England from breaching the boundary between the 21st and 34th over but allowed them to score freely on either side of that squeeze.
England's new opening pair, Tammy Beaumont and Emma Lamb laid the foundation with the team's first century stand since December 2019. They were prolific on the offside, with the cut through point making several appearances, and raced to 58 without loss after the Powerplay and 93 at the first drinks' break.
Desperate for a breakthrough, South Africa reviewed an lbw shot against Beaumont off left-arm Nonkululeko Mlaba. It was a poor referral and ball-tracking confirmed it was missing leg stump by a distance. Beaumont was on 41 at the time, and the dominant partner in the stand with Lamb, who then shifted gears.
Lamb cut Mlaba through backward point to bring up fifty off 54 balls, a strong follow-up from her century on Monday, and then made room for herself to hit de Klerk over midwicket, through point and drag Mlaba over the in-field to surge ahead of Beaumont. Her eyes lit up when South Africa introduced their sixth bowler, Chloe Tryon, whose second ball was a loopy full-toss. Lamb swept but top-edged to Mlaba at short-fine leg to give South Africa some reprieve.
South Africa took the opportunity to quiet England after that dismissal and had an opportunity against Beaumont when she scooped Kapp straight to mid-on but Mlaba spilt a simple chance. By then, Beaumont was on 52 and the drop could have proved costly but Beaumont developed cramp in her hand and three overs later, chipped Tryon to Ismail at mid-off.
Just as South Africa gained some ground, Dunkley redirected the innings by hitting Ayabonga Khaka for back-to-back fours. England entered the last 10 overs on 232 for 2. Dunkley brought up her fifty off the 61st ball she faced and there was no stopping her from there. She took 16 runs off Ismail's eighth over, reached her century off 87 balls and ensured England had a match-winning score.
If they doubted that, it was only for 14.2 overs that Wolvaardt threatened. With two debuts in the XI, Lauren Bell and Issy Wong, Heather Knight chose to use Nat Sciver to open the bowling and her first four overs cost 32. Wolvaardt 21 runs off 12 deliveries she faced from Sciver, most of them full but one so short she pulled through mid-wicket. South Africa had a better Powerplay than England and scored 67 and Wolvaardt brought up 50 off 41 balls and an epic contest was brewing. But Wolvaardt's 87-run stand with Andrie Steyn ended when she tried to clear the in-field off Charlie Dean and picked out Wong at mid-on.
South Africa lost their next five wickets for 51 runs, including three to Wong. She had Lara Goodall caught at mid-on, Tryon caught behind and Nadine de Klerk caught by a diving Sciver at short cover. Ironically, the short ball that failed South Africa worked well for Wong.
Kapp scored 50 off 46 balls, her 10th in ODIs, but had scant support. She was dismissed for 73 as South Africa entered the last 10 overs on 223 for 8, only nine behind where England were at the same stage, but six wickets adrift and with little chance of even batting out their overs. They were bowled out in 41 overs. Dean finished with the third four-fer of her career.
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