In search of a score after patchy returns from his last few outings, Jason Roy was feeling his way into the second ODI when Kagiso Rabada, starting his third over, pitched the ball up. It was, according to TV graphics, fractionally short of yorker length and, to a batsman as instinctive as Roy, therefore a designated half-volley to which he could deploy his trademark whip through midwicket. Except, this was a ball delivered at 93mph. A straight bat may have saved him but Roy was slightly out of synch playing across the line and immediately heard the death rattle behind him.
The bar of soap
Keshav Maharaj, South Africa's debutant spinner, had precious little assistance from his team-mates after coming on during the second Powerplay. Having seen Hales dropped for six by Rabada at long-on in Maharaj's second over, Ben Stokes was then given two lives from his first two balls. The first saw him edge straight through the hands of Hashim Amla at first slip, with the ball running away for four; then a harder chance evaded the gloves of Quinton de Kock. Stokes' slippery start continued as he nicked his third delivery wide of Amla for more runs - and Maharaj's wait for a maiden ODI wicket went on.
The fingertip intervention
Dwaine Pretorius was twice hit to the boundary in his first over, with Joe Root seemingly keen to tuck into his medium-pace offerings; in the next, with the wicketkeeper standing up, Root scooped and flicked two more fours. But Pretorius then had Hales well held at the wicket by de Kock and he saw off Root, too, when diving to his right to deflect an Eoin Morgan drive into the stumps at the non-striker's end. It was only a brush of the fingertips but enough to leave Root stranded and having to dejectedly drag himself away from the middle.
England were beginning to step up the pace in the final overs when Jos Buttler collared Andile Phehlukwayo for four fours off four legitimate deliveries (with a wide thrown in as well). The third was audacious enough to draw audible gasps of appreciation from the crowd, as Buttler stood up on off stump and reverse-pulled a vicious blow over backward point. The most extraordinary thing was how run-of-the-mill Buttler made it look.
Stokes' first ODI hundred on home soil had changed the complexion of the England innings and he was clearly itching to get into the battle with ball in hand, too, despite a knee problem that had made him a doubt to play. Morgan brought him on in the tenth over and he almost removed de Kock with his first ball, not quite able to hold a brilliant one-handed effort in his follow-through off a miscued pull. He was not to be denied, however, as Amla thrashed Stokes' fifth ball straight to cover to give England their breakthrough.