LONDON: Ben Stokes smashed a blistering century and Mark Wood bowled an excellent final over as England beat South Africa by two runs in the second one-day international in Southampton on Saturday for an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
After Stokes’s heroics with the bat had helped England score 330 for six in their 50 overs, South Africa needed 10 runs from the last 10 balls of their innings with five wickets remaining, but an excellent final over from Wood that cost just four runs sealed victory.
One worry for England ahead of the looming Champions Trophy starting on Friday is that Stokes managed to bowl only three overs in the South African innings having injured his knee in the first ODI win, but he remained on the field.
"Those are the sorts of games you really want to win,” England captain Eoin Morgan said at the post-match presentation at the Rose Bowl. “You learn a lot more. The game got away from us quite a lot. Woody was awesome.”
The visitors won the toss and elected to field, reducing England to 80 for three in the 16th over when Joe Root (39) was run out at the non-strikers’ end.
But Stokes (101 from 79 balls) put on 95 for the fourth wicket with Morgan (45) and 77 for the fifth with Jos Buttler (65 not out) before he became a maiden ODI wicket on debut for South African left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj.
Opener Quinton de Kock (98 from 103 balls) led the South African reply before he was caught by wicketkeeper Buttler off Moeen Ali.
Captain AB de Villiers pitched in with a fluent 52, but the innings looked to be faltering until Chris Morris (36 not out from 22 balls) joined David Miller (71 not out from 51 balls) in the 44th over.
The pair added 62 in 39 balls for the sixth wicket and looked as though they had won the game when they needed seven off the final over bowled by Wood (0-48 in 10 overs).
But the England seamer produced an excellent over of short-pitched slower balls and the pair could only manage four singles to see victory slip away.
“I can't be unhappy, we fought right to the end and probably had it in the bag for most of that last half hour," De Villiers said.