ENGLAND slumped to another defeat and have now lost their one-day series in South Africa with a match to play.
Jos Buttler’s team failed to defend 342-7 and the ease with which the Proteas cruised to their target will cause plenty of alarms.
David Miller was in at the end to guide South Africa to victory
South Africa captain Temba Bavuma scored an impressive century
It was another defeat for Jos Buttler and Co
It means England have lost five one-dayers on the trot – which is hardly ideal at the start of a World Cup year.
England followed their 27-run defeat on Friday with a five-wicket loss in Bloemfontein and now the third and final match on Wednesday is a dead rubber.
The game went to the final over but the truth is that South Africa had their run chase under control for at least the final 15 overs.
Admittedly, the schedule is all over the place but England have not won a 50-over series against a Test-playing nation since they beat Pakistan in July 2021.
England are not at full strength – Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood are among those missing – and are rotating their XI.
But, so far, this mini-trip is not going to plan.
Since Buttler succeeded Eoin Morgan as captain, England have lost eight out of 11 with one no result.
Buttler has led England to T20 World Cup glory, of course, but ex-England skipper Nasser Hussain admitted on Sky: “There is a lot of talent in the squad and at times the schedule has worked against them, but it is a concern.
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“If you take your eye off the game, then other sides go past you.
“England do have a lot of good players to come back but you want to win every game and these have been two drubbings in South Africa.”
There was an edge to the game, too, with Buttler exchanging words with South African batsman Rassie van der Dussan and Sam Curran responding with an in-your-face celebration after he coaxed centurion Temba Bavuma into dragging onto his stumps.
Buttler added: “I was delighted to score 342 after a tough start and what a brilliant game of cricket. That was a great chase by South Africa.
“There’s a bigger picture of building towards the World Cup but we’ve come here to win games of cricket and build confidence. So we need to win on Wednesday.”
England struggled in the early overs with Jason Roy, who scored a redemptive century 48 hours earlier, bowled for just nine.
The ballast of England’s innings came from middle-order trio Harry Brook, Buttler and Moeen Ali.
Brook was out for a duck on his one-day international debut on Friday but this time made 80 from 75 balls before skewing a catch to deep cover.
Buttler was impressive with 94 not out from 82 deliveries while Moeen’s 51 was his first ODI half-century since September 2017.
England pillaged 181 runs from their final 20 overs and 60 from the last four overs and swept to 342-7.
But Bavuma was superb and the middle-order all contributed with David Miller finishing the job by launching Chris Woakes for six.
Jos Buttler hit an unbeaten 94 for England
Harry Brook impressed to score 80 before holing out to Rassie van der Dussen off the bowling of Aiden Markram
Moeen Ali scored his first ODI half-century since 2017