Fast bowlers Sisanda Magala, Anrich Nortje, and Kagiso Rabada earned South Africa a dramatic 27-run win in the first one-day international against England at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein on Friday. England seemed headed for a comfortable win as Jason Roy and Dawid Malan put on 146 for the first wicket inside the first 20 overs of England's reply to South Africa's 298 for seven.
Roy went on to score a thrilling 113 off 91 balls but the rest of the batting collapsed. Magala made the crucial breakthrough when Malan mistimed an attempted pull against a short-pitched ball and was caught for 59. He followed up by trapping debutant Harry Brook leg before wicket for nought. Magala took three for 46 and was named man of the match, while Nortje (four for 62) and Rabada (two for 46) were irresistible as the match reached a climax.
Five of the wickets fell to short-pitched bowling. "The pitch was a bit two-paced and it made the bouncers effective," said Magala.
England captain Jos Buttler said he was disappointed that his side had not maintained the aggressive intent shown by Roy and Malan.
"South Africa came back really well but I thought we could have kept trying to take it on and put pressure on them," he said.
Although he finished on the losing side, Roy gave an emphatic answer to critics who have questioned his place in the team after a poor run of form since he helped England win the World Cup in 2019. He had made only one century since the World Cup, against second-tier Netherlands, and his previous eight innings had yielded only 160 runs with a highest score of 43.
- Archer expensive -
But Roy was in dominant form from the start of his innings, reaching his fifty off 45 balls and his century off 79 deliveries. He hit 11 fours and four sixes. Rassie van der Dussen hit a contrasting century to enable South Africa to post a challenging total. Van der Dussen made 111 off 117 balls, hitting only six boundaries.
He held the innings together as England's bowlers came back strongly after an opening stand of 61 off 52 balls between Quinton de Kock and captain Temba Bavuma. England fast bowler Jofra Archer was expensive in his first one-day international since September 2020, taking one for 81 in ten overs. But the rest of the England bowlers made the batsmen work hard for their runs on a slow pitch.
South Africa's total was only 12 runs higher than the average first innings total on a ground known for high scoring. Left-armer Sam Curran took three for 35 in nine overs, mixing up his pace and making good use of the bouncer –- a formula which later worked well for the South Africans.
The three-match series is part of the World Cup Super League and the win was a boost for South Africa, who have yet to earn automatic qualification for the World Cup in India later this year. Bavuma said South Africa had gone into the series determined to play good cricket, whether or not they qualified for the World Cup.
"We're happy with the way we went about our business but obviously we need the points," he said.