Despite Jason Roy’s aggressive century in Bloemfontein, England recklessly lost to South Africa by 27 runs in the first one-day international.
In order to set his team on track for a comfortable victory in chase of 299, opener Roy smashed a 79-ball century on the day Jofra Archer returned from injury.
He led England to scores of 146-0 after 20 overs and 196-3 after 30 before being caught on the boundary for 113 runs off of 91 balls.
But four overs later, Moeen Ali was dismissed, sparking a six-wicket collapse for 49 runs in the face of ferocious fast bowling.
A dramatic turnaround saw England bowled out for 271 with 5.4 overs remaining after Anrich Nortje took 3-13 in a four-over burst.
In South Africa’s 298-7, Rassie van der Dussen had earlier scored a calculated 111 from 117 balls.
With England leading a comeback with 3-35, it had appeared as though the hosts had missed out on taking advantage of being 75-1 after 10 overs and 167-3 after 30.
Archer struggled on his first appearance for England in over two years, finishing with figures of 1-81 from 10 overs — his most costly in ODIs.
Prior to Sunday’s second ODI, South Africa now leads the three-match series 1-0. The victory also helps the hosts’ quest for automatic qualification to this year’s 50-over World Cup.
England blows a win.
This appears to be a low-key series that was rescheduled after it was initially canceled because to Covid-19 in 2020, yet it does have some significance.
It is the first of 13 one-day internationals that England will play leading up to their defense of their 50-over World Cup championship in India in October.
For a very long time, it appeared as though they would get off to a strong start, easing themselves back into a format that had been put on hold while they pursued and succeeded in winning the World Cup in the 20-over game.
When Roy was removed, England needed 103 runs from 125 balls and had six wickets left; they should never have lost.
Before Nortje produced a brilliant delivery to take Jos Buttler’s edge and dismiss the England captain for 36 from 42 balls, Moeen pulled seamer Sisanda Magala, who took 3-46, to deep square-leg.
The run rate was never an issue, but Nortje, one of the world’s fastest bowlers, bounced out David Willey and Archer to finish with 4-62, and Curran played a sloppy waft to the last delivery of Kagiso Rabada’s set of 10 to get caught behind.
Being 11th in the standings with just the top eight teams qualifying puts South Africa in danger of not earning an automatic spot in the World Cup.
To have any chance, they must win two more of their final four games—two against England and then two more against the Netherlands.
Roy gets back to normal
The setback detracts from Roy’s much-needed return to form, which was a key component of the 2019 World Cup victory.
He was dropped from the T20 team because to his performance, which included no fifties in his previous 14 international innings. This raised severe concerns about his future status in this team.
He looked back to his authoritative, dismissive best in bashing 11 fours and four sixes in an opening stand with Dawid Malan, who scored 59, after being given a rapid start by careless South Africa bowling.
Ben Duckett and Harry Brook, two recent stars of Ben Stokes’ Test team, fell for three and nought respectively after Malan was caught miscuing a pull off Magala.
In order to reach three digits, Roy continued by slog-sweeping Shamsi for six and imperiously hauling Nortje for four.
After that, with an attitude filled with annoyance, joy, and relief, he roared in delight before gazing above. The wicket that unexpectedly turned out to be vital was where Rabada eventually caught him on the square leg boundary.
A comeback that will test Archer
The first time in ODI cricket, Archer allowed 20 runs in an over. Archer’s final match for England came in March 2021. Since then, he has undergone two elbow operations and experienced a stress fracture in his back.
To call his much awaited comeback a reality check would be unfair. Instead, it was a reflection of how he had assessed his own performance before to the game: at “around 80%” of peak condition.
Quinton de Kock, the opener, played him superbly as he drove down the ground and blasted a pull for six over square leg while bowling below his previous maximum speeds at about 86 mph.
Later in the innings, when the rust was more noticeable, Archer made a comeback after a first spell of 0-41 from five overs. With a front-foot and a waist-high no-ball in his ninth over, which cost him 20 runs, Van der Dussen scored six runs on the free hit, the only time the right-hander managed to clear the fences during an otherwise quiet inning of accumulation.
Curran was England’s preferred bowler because Archer was bleeding runs. The left-armer varied his speed to slow down the scoring and caught De Kock off guard for 37 with a surprise bouncer.
When Wayne Parnell was utterly outfoxed by Archer’s signature slower ball in the final over, the left-hander tamely offered a catch to backward point, ensuring that his comeback was not wicketless.
The performance demonstrated that patience is needed as Archer makes his comeback, even for a bowler with his unquestionable ability.
Jos Buttler, the captain of the England team, responded, “We should continue and win that game.” “I was disappointed because I thought we played great cricket for the majority of that game. We were sad not to complete the victory because to be in the position we were after that first stand, we should have continued to win the game.
“In order to maintain our momentum from the strong bat start, we must play with conviction and dedication. We have benefited greatly from that for a very long time.”
Temba Bavuma, the captain of South Africa: “It did alter swiftly. Magala made things challenging for them and gave us a boost. The men who followed him really capitalized on that momentum.
“I always thought one of the bowlers would go above and above for us. For us, everyone contributed in some way to the game.”