Innings break England 262 (Root 109, Hales 50, Rabada 4-45) v South Africa
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Joe Root made his eighth ODI hundred © Getty Images
A century from Joe Root helped England fight back from an almost hopeless position in the fourth ODI of the series against South Africa in Johannesburg.
Root, with his second century of the series and the eighth of his ODI career, added 95 for the seventh wicket with Chris Woakes in 16.4 overs to help England rebuild from the depths of 108 for 6 in the 25th over. With Adil Rashid also contributing a swift 39, England’s lower-order more than doubled the score.
Their final total of 262 may still not be enough on a good batting track with one unusually short boundary, but it gives them an outside chance of clinching the five match series they currently lead 2-1.
It was, ironic though it sounds, the quality of the batting track that played a part in England’s downfall. So aware were the top order of the need to push on and set a defensible total on a surface where something some way in excess of 300 might be considered par that they were drawn into a series of highly aggressive strokes which cost them their wickets.
The turning point was the wicket of Alex Hales. For the fourth time in the series, Hales made a mature half-century with his natural positivity tempered by enough restraint to give himself the best chance of success.
But then, despite the presence of a man on the midwicket boundary, he played a slog-sweep off Imran Tahir only to see the ball carry unerringly to the fielder.
It precipitated a collapse that saw England lose five wickets for 21 runs in seven overs; a passage of play that may well define the match.
More to follow…
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo