Alex Hales was pleased with his man-of-the-match performance in the second one-day international against South Africa despite the disappointment of falling one run short of a century.
The Nottinghamshire opener shelved his usual big-hitting style to accumulate 99 from 124 balls as England completed a five-wicket victory to go 2-0 up in the five-match series.
Hales’ innings was his second half-century in as many games, and the 27-year-old has enjoyed the change of format after a difficult Test tour, although he did have some regrets about his dismissal – an attempted pull off Kyle Abbott resulting in a bat-pad catch looping to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
Hales told ecb.co.uk: “It was very disappointing – I guess if you could pick a ball to get when you’re on 99, one on your hip would be right up there; unfortunately it wasn’t to be but if someone offers you 99 at the start of the day you’re taking it.
“It’s probably the sort of wicket for ugly runs.
“As long as you don’t give your wicket away and take it deep, with the likes of Jos [Buttler] in the form that he’s in and batting all the way down to number 10, we knew as deep as we took it we’d get over the line.
“It was a difficult Test series – I think it’s quite a tough place to come and open the batting in Test cricket and I learnt a lot from it.
“As soon as we’ve switched to the white ball I have felt confident in the nets and I’m pleased to have managed to find some form again.”
Having posted a sizeable 399 for nine in Bloemfontein, Hales echoed the sentiments of skipper Eoin Morgan that England’s ability to adapt to a slower, low-scoring pitch in Port Elizabeth bodes well.
Although he was quick to point out that there is still work to do to secure the series.
“It was a great win for us in very different conditions to what we had in the summer against New Zealand, Australia and what we had the other night so it’s great that we managed to adapt and got off to a brilliant start with the ball,” he added.
— Jos Buttler (@josbuttler) February 6, 2016
“Toppers [Reece Topley] with his four wickets and then the two spinners keeping it tight – it was a really good all-round effort.
“It’s a great start for us but it is only a start, against these guys – one of the best one-day teams in the world – we can’t afford to get complacent so we’re going to turn up to training on Monday and make sure it doesn’t happen.”
A tense finish looked to be on the cards when Hales fell with 61 needed from 52 balls, but Buttler made a mockery of the conditions to blast 48 from 28 balls as England accelerated over the line.
Hales continued: “He looked like he was batting on a different wicket to the one I was!
“It was brilliant striking. That’s the sort of form that Jos is in, it’s brilliant and he’s a real match-winner.”