England 265 for 4 (Trescothick 114*, Solanki 106) beat South Africa 263 for 7 (Kallis 107, Boucher 55, Flintoff 3-46) by six wickets
England wobbled in the final furlong, but superb hundreds from Marcus Trescothick and Vikram Solanki - his first in England colours - proved too much for a South African side who would have sunk without trace were it not for a gutsy century from Jacques Kallis century. It was just the medicine that Michael Vaughan, who missed the match with a back injury, needed after Thursday's dismal performance.
On what appeared to be an almost perfect batting strip, South Africa should have been looking for a score in excess of 300 after winning the toss. As it was they struggled against the movement generated by the England seamers in the first hour, and then their bowlers underperformed on a surface which was as unforgiving as they will play on all summer. Kallis, Mark Boucher and the late middle order boosted the South African total - the last ten overs of their innings produced 81 runs - but it was put into context when England's innings started at a similar pace.
Whereas against Pakistan eight days ago Trescothick had been the executioner while Solanki fulfilled the role of runner, this time it was Solanki who set the pace. From the off he powerfully drove anything pitched up and pulled whenever the bowlers dropped short. Trescothick meanwhile scored almost exclusively square or behind square - he reached his fifty without one scoring shot genuinely in front of the wicket.
Solanki had one let off when he was caught behind off a no-ball by Shaun Pollock but otherwise he looked every inch an England opener. His hundred came up off 101 balls, and by the time he was dismissed by Ntini he had contributed 106 to an England record one-day opening stand of 200. The only blemish on the charge towards victory then came as Robert Key and Anthony McGrath were both dismissed for 0. Key did himself no favours with a wild swing at the first ball he received, from Ntini, while McGrath was undone by a peach of ball from Kallis.
Andrew Flintoff arrived like a man miffed at being woken from a summer-afternoon nap and determined to get back to his hammock as quickly as possible. South Africa might have sniffed the chance of pulling off a dramatic comeback, but Flintoff's 21-ball 32 saw to that. He lofted two sixes, one a massive drive over long-on, and that was that. For once Trescothick, who had the added distraction of leading England in Vaughan's absence, was allowed the luxury of reaching his own hundred without worrying about what was going on at the other end.
That the sell-out crowd were given a whole afternoon's entertainment was down to Kallis's well-paced hundred, his ninth hundred in ODIs and his first against England. It rescued South Africa from a stodgy start during which James Anderson bowled Herschelle Gibbs for 5 and had Graeme Smith play on for 13. Anderson still bowled too short, and the dark red Mohican stripe in his hair hinted that perhaps he is taking the talk of him being cricket's David Beckham too literally.
The innings really lost its way thanks to a brilliant piece of athleticism from Richard Johnson. Kallis dropped a short ball from Johnson at his feet and immediately sent the the committed Jacques Rudolph back. Johnson's follow-through took him almost level with Kalllis, and he picked-up the ball, swiveled, and threw down the stumps at the bowler's end in one movement with Rudolph (20) inches short (72 for 3).
Kallis and Boucher (55) then set out to repair the innings, and did so with a combination of powerful hitting and good running, adding 111 in 22 overs and blunting England's far from hostile attack. Ashley Giles and Johnson looked average, and again Anthony McGrath's brief spell gave little indication that he has what it takes to be a genuine allrounder.
Boucher's dismissal for 55, bowled by the first of three excellent wicket-taking yorkers from Flintoff, triggered an increase in the scoring rate and Kallis brought up his hundred in the 48th over off 129 balls. It was an emotional moment for Kallis, who pointed to the No. 65 on the back of his shirt, a number dedicated to his ailing father.
Kallis fell soon after to Flintoff in the last-gasp slog, but the real fireworks came in the final over when Andrew Hall struck Darren Gough for five successive fours. The aggression came about two hours too late.