JOFRA ARCHER seized SIX wickets in his second comeback match as England ended their sequence of one-day international defeats.
Archer’s mega-haul came after Jos Buttler and Dawid Malan inspired a remarkable recovery with a record-breaking partnership of 232 from 211 balls.
Jofra Archer was all smiles after his six wicket haul
Dawid Malan and Jos Buttler produced a record-breaking partnership of 232
Buttler’s side picked up their first win in six matches
England were 14-3 but Buttler and Malan each scored centuries and made sure they soared to a huge total of 346-7.
England won by 59 runs but South Africa triumphed 2-1 in the series.
Archer regularly reached 90mph and showed that his two elbow operations and stress fracture of the back are becoming distant memories.
Archer has been out of international cricket since March 2021 and his performance will provide a surge of optimism at the start of a year that includes the Ashes and a 50-over World Cup.
He took 1-81 in the first match of the series and didn’t play in the second game. But his pace, rhythm and confidence were top-notch in Kimberley yesterday.
Archer removed Rassie van der Dussen in his first spell and then Aiden Markram and David Miller when Buttler wanted his quickest bowler to snare a wicket or two and subdue South Africa’s dangerous-looking chase of 347.
Archer returned for a third spell that contained three wickets – including the powerful Heinrich Klaasen, who was caught at deep square leg for 80 – and finished off the Proteas’ innings.
He finished with the stunning figures of 6-40 in a high-scoring match and could not stop grinning and he walked off holding a match ball.
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Player of the Match Buttler said: “Jofra’s performance was fantastic and he was probably deserving of the Player of the Match award, rather than me.
“To come back and take those two wickets in the middle overs when the game was in the balance really broke things open for us.”
Buttler’s team might have lost the series but at least their victory halted a run of five 50-over losses. A sixth defeat would have meant their worst sequence for 14 years.
But little looked less likely half an hour into the match.
Jason Roy, Ben Duckett and Harry Brook all perished cheaply and opener Malan and captain Buttler were forced to rebuild slowly. Buttler was scoreless from his first 14 deliveries.
England made just 20 runs in their first ten overs and were 73-3 after 20 overs. They had managed only 129-3 by the end of the 30th over.
But Malan and Buttler pressed the accelerator so hard that 217 runs were plundered from the final 20 overs.
Their stand was England’s highest for the fourth wicket in one-day cricket, beating the 226 put on by Andrew Strauss and Andrew Flintoff against West Indies in 2004.
Moeen Ali contributed 41 from 23 balls and England struck 19 sixes in total.
Malan admitted: “I couldn’t get the ball off the square for my first 40 and 50 balls! I felt so far behind the game that I chanced my arm and got a bit of momentum.
“And when Jos starts going, it’s impossible to stop him. So we dovetailed very well.”
South Africa were a long way ahead of England’s comparative score throughout their innings but lost too many wickets – due mainly to Archer.
Wrist-spinner Adil Rashid took three wickets and the Proteas were bowled out with almost seven of their overs unused.