Cape Town — England captain Jos Buttler and David Malan both stuck magnificent centuries to power the visitors to 346/7 in the third One-Day International against South Africa in Kimberley on Wednesday.
Buttler struck a marvellous 131 (127 balls, 6x4, 7x6) and Malan 118 (114 balls, 7x4, 6x6). Their efforts were even more special due to the fact they came together when England were reduced to 14/3 after superb new-ball spell from Lungi Ngidi.
The big fast bowler dismissed Jason Roy and Ben Duckett with successive deliveries before also removing Harry Brook.
At that stage South Africa would have had ambitions of running through the England batting order, but Malan and Buttler fought resolutely. They started cautiously, particularly the left-handed Malan, who required 79 balls for his half-century. Buttler utilised just 64 balls.
In fact, England’s 100 only came in the 25th over.
But the next 25 overs was absolute carnage with the visitors adding a further 246 runs. Malan was the first to switch his gears as he needed just 27 balls to bring up his third ODI century. It was a masterclass of controlled hitting with Malan showing why was ranked the No 1 T20 batter in the world for a period of time.
Buttler, meanwhile, is just a magician and he moved to his 11th ODI century with ease. It also pushed Buttler’s series tally across the three games to 261 runs at an average of 130.
The pair’s partnership eventually yielded 232 runs off just 211 balls for England to seize the initiative.
And even after Malan was dismissed, caught by Heinrich Klaasen off Marco Jansen, the momentum was maintained by a free-swinging Moeen Ali (41 off just 23 balls).
South Africa may have already won the series, but they would not be happy with the way they allowed England to reclaim the advantage through a lack of execution at the death.
Ngidi was a case in point, as his initial burst of 5-0-12-3 bulged to 10-0-62-4 as his discipline let him down through a couple of no-balls that was dispatched by Moeen in particular.