England and Buttler's batting brilliance hailed by skipper Morgan racking up second-highest ODI tally in victory against South Africa

 
Ross McLean
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Buttler struck his fourth ODI century for England (Source: Getty)

England skipper Eoin Morgan hailed the batting brilliance of his side after they racked up the country’s second-highest one-day international total to beat South Africa by 39 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method in Bloemfontein last night.

The tourists’ 399-5 was underpinned by a hundred from wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler as opener Alex Hales, batsman Joe Root and all-rounder Ben Stokes all struck half-centuries.

Opener Quinton de Kock’s impressive knock of 138 not out off 96 balls maintained South Africa’s interest although the loss of wickets at key times saw momentum rest with England until the rain came with the Proteas 250-5 from 33.3 overs.

England take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series ahead of the second tussle in Port Elizabeth on Saturday and although they fell agonisingly short of passing 400 for only the second time in an ODI, their batting majesty left Morgan purring.

“You’d take 399 every day, it was a monumental effort,” said Morgan. “The tone was set by the two openers and continued right down the innings. Jos [Buttler] was phenomenal. He is someone who can certainly change the game.”

Opener Hales aded: “It was pretty much a perfect batting performance. We know we can clear the ropes down to No10. It’s nice knowing that everyone in the team can hold their end, and everyone’s natural game is to score at a run a ball.”

Buttler, who did not feature in England’s victorious Test series against South Africa, was the visitors’ standout performer with the bat, hitting 11 fours and five sixes in his innings of 105 from 76 balls -- the slowest of his four ODI centuries.

All-rounder Moeen Ali claimed 3-43 from six overs before the rain came.