Bloemfontein: Jos Buttler’s century helped England beat South Africa by 39 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method in the first one-day international at the Mangaung Oval on Wednesday. (Broad Takes Over Top Spot From Ravichandran Ashwin in ICC Rankings)
Buttler’s 105 was the main contribution as England piled up 399 for nine, their highest one-day total against South Africa and their second highest of all time. (South Africa Seek Redemption in ODI Series Against England)
Fellow wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock hit an even better century, making 138 not out off 96 balls before rain ended play with South Africa on 250 for five in 33.3 overs. (Broad Back in England One-Day Squad After Liam Plunkett Injury)
But whereas Buttler was part of a powerful team batting effort, De Kock’s only significant support came from Faf du Plessis, who made 55.
Buttler hit 11 fours and five sixes in a 76-ball innings which included a breathtaking variety of strokes.
“The reason for promoting Jos was because we have a very flexible batting line-up,” said England captain Eoin Morgan.
“We were flying at around eight-and-a-half (runs per over) at one stage and it felt right to promote him up the order.
“He’s one of our only players who has the capabilties to score a 40 or 50-ball hundred. The timing of it just seemed right.”
England’s innings included five partnerships worth 50 or more while no fewer than eight batsmen struck sixes, with a total of 15 hits clearing some of the biggest boundaries in South Africa.
South Africa lost Hashim Amla early but De Kock and Du Plessis kept the hosts in touch with the required run rate in a second wicket partnership of 110 off 83 balls.
With storm clouds overhead and a strong wind sending clouds of dust swirling across the ground, it seemed that a stoppage might be imminent when Du Plessis was caught on the midwicket boundary off Moeen Ali.
The rain did not come and off-spinner Ali struck again when South African captain AB de Villiers was brilliantly caught by a running, leaping Stokes at wide long-on for eight.
Despite De Kock reaching his ninth one-day international century off 67 balls, South Africa were unable to keep pace with a Duckworth/Lewis target which grew larger with every wicket that fell before rain eventually arrived.
De Kock hit 12 fours and six sixes. Early in his career-best innings he became, at 23, the youngest South African to reach 2,000 runs in one-day internationals.
Ali took three for 43, easily the best figures of a match when most bowlers took a pounding.