Eoin Morgan heaped praise on Alex Hales and Jos Buttler after the duo played key roles in ensuring England claimed another win over South Africa in Port Elizabeth.
Opener Hales underpinned a successful pursuit of 263 on Saturday with a measured innings of 99, while Buttler – a centurion in Wednesday’s first one-day international – picked up where he left off by dashing to 48 not out from 28 balls following an England wobble.
Morgan’s tourists now hold a 2-0 lead over South Africa in the five-match ODI series and the captain was delighted to see his team prosper on a pitch that provided a different test to the flat track used for the opening match in Bloemfontein.
“The challenge was obviously adapting to conditions,” said Morgan in the post-match presentation. “It was completely different – that’s what most impressed me.
“To come out and play like that … Alex Hales was magnificent at the top and Jos Buttler at the end was top-class. He came in and took the game into his own hands.”
South Africa’s innings lost momentum after skipper AB de Villiers (73) fell victim to a superb Chris Jordan catch in the 41st over.
Only 57 runs were added thereafter and a home total of 262-7 was overhauled by England with 22 balls to spare.
“You never really know what a good score is, but certainly we were very happy with [limiting South Africa to] 260,” Morgan added.
England’s success at St George’s Park owed much to Hales, who paced his knock perfectly before being caught down the leg side one short of his hundred.
“If you could choose a delivery to get [on 99], it would be one on your hip to [glance to] fine-leg, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be,” said Hales, who was previously dismissed for 99 in a Twenty20 international against West Indies.
“I think it was a slightly different wicket, particularly to what we played on in the summer, so it was a different sort of innings required. We knew if we took it deep, with Jos in the form he’s in, we’d get over the line.”
Hales managed just 136 runs from eight innings against South Africa in his maiden Test series, but has already surpassed that total in two ODIs.
“The Test series was difficult – it was a struggle for me, but I learned a lot,” he explained.
“Since we switched to the white ball, I’ve felt in good touch.”