Ben Stokes banishes injury doubts with superb ton

Any doubts over Ben Stokes’ fitness seemed laughable at the Ageas Bowl, as a glorious century from England’s star man helped the hosts to a total of 330 in this second ODI against South Africa.

On winning the toss, it looked a relatively simple decision for Proteas skipper AB de Villiers to put England in to bat under the overcast sky. And it appeared to pay dividends from the off.

Ben Stokes celebrates reaching his century in England’s clash with South Africa

Jos Buttler returned to form by firing his first 13th one day international fifty for England

The all-rounder smashes the ball into the leg side as he takes the aerial route

Jason Roy – without a score above 20 in his last five ODIs – looked like a man struggling for form.

The opener got lucky with a edged drive over backward point for a single off Chris Morris, but was comprehensively beaten by a 93mph yorker from Kagiso Rabada in the next over.

Roy was undone by rare pace on this occasion, but another single-digit score does not bode well for the Surrey man with the Champions Trophy on the horizon.

His departure sent Root out into the middle, and after playing himself in with a couple of boundaries, the man with 66 on his back reached into his bag of tricks.

England’s talisman sunk to his knee and welcomed Dwaine Pretorious into the attack with an edged ramp shot past Quinton de Kock and down to the fine leg boundary.

Kagiso Rabada celebrates after snaring England captain Eoin Morgan for 45

Eoin Morgan cuts into the off side during the second ODI in Southampton on Saturday

Keshav Maharaj was the next to be dispatched to the rope by Root. The batsman again went down on one knee but on this occasion produced a more orthodox when he got there, lofting the left-arm spinner over midwicket.

Alex Hales attempted an identical shot off the same bowler soon after, but with Rabada having been moved out to offer Maharaj some protection, the opener’s number looked up.

What relief, then, for Hales as Rabada tipped a relatively straightforward chance over the rope for six. Even in the hermetically-sealed Ageas Bowl press box, the crowd’s ironic cheers were audible.

It might have been an expensive error for Rabada, given Hales’ destructive reputation in limited-overs cricket, but it ended up costing just six runs as the opener edged Pretorious behind and drew a very sharp catch from De Kock.

Root was back in the pavilion for 39, but was desperately unlucky to be run out at the non-striker’s end as Pretorious stooped to get a fingertip on Eoin Morgan’s straight drive into the stumps.

That saw Stokes stride out to the middle – and make something of an inauspicious start to his innings. After almost being run out without facing the all-rounder was dropped off both of his first two balls, with Hashim Amla and De Kock the guilty parties.

Unlike Rabada’s missed chance off Hales, these drops would prove much more costly.

Stokes had no trouble putting his early struggles to the back of his mind, and was soon adding to England’s boundary count.

South African bowler Dwaine Pretorius appeals after running out Joe Root

Root was in fine touch before he was run out in cruel circumstances for 39

Alex Hales hit 24 from 28 deliveries before he was caught behind by Quinton de Kock

After stroking a straight one from Pretorious back over his head for four, the Durham man crunched Andile Phehlukwayo for six over the midwicket boundary.

A golf shot for six of Chris Morris followed closely after as Stokes looked to tee off, but it was some well-judged running that saw his total reach three figures.

The fun and games were put on pause when he holed out off Maharaj in the next over – Stokes struggling to hide his disappointment as he trudged off the field – but with the arrival of Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler in the middle, South Africa’s respite didn’t last long.

A series of brutal strokes from both men – and an outrageous reverse pull for four by Buttler – gave the innings late impetus and pushed South Africa’s target to 331.

Kagiso Rabada celebrates after bowling Jason Roy with a vicious yorker early on

via Cricket Articles | Mail Online

May 27, 2017 at 12:31PM

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