|Second Women’s ODI, The 1st Central County Ground, Hove|
|England 331-6 (50 overs): Taylor 118, Beaumont 101, Kapp 2-48|
|South Africa 262-9 (50 overs): Lee 117, Tryon 44, Ecclestone 3-54|
|England win by 69 runs|
Centuries from Tammy Beaumont and Sarah Taylor helped England’s women beat South Africa by 69 runs and level the three-match series at 1-1.
Opener Beaumont made 101 and wicketkeeper Taylor struck 118 as the hosts posted 331-6 at Hove.
Only Lizelle Lee, who made 117 from 107 deliveries, was able to put England’s bowlers under sustained pressure.
Despite a quickfire 44 from Chloe Tryon, South Africa could not build partnerships and slipped to defeat.
It was a much improved batting performance by the hosts, who lost the opening game of the three-match series by seven wickets.
Taylor’s 156-run stand with Beaumont, who brought up her fourth one-day century with three successive fours, helped England to a decent total.
However, Lee showed some superb power hitting, striking 13 fours and five sixes to become the first South African woman to make a century against England.
The rest of the visitors batting faltered, with players struggling to find the boundary, and wickets fell regularly following Lee’s dismissal.
The final match of the series takes place on Friday at Canterbury from 14:00 BST.
From 64-6 to 227-1 – the top order succeeds
England’s batting was in stark contrast to that in the opening game in Worcester when too many of their top order were dismissed playing across the line, and the world champions stumbled to 64-6 before Katherine Brunt – the only player to pass 20 – led a partial recovery with an unbeaten 72.
This time, the top order did their job. England’s opening berths are among the most fiercely contested in the team, with Danielle Wyatt back in the middle order despite two Twenty20 centuries as opener during the winter, while Lauren Winfield has been recalled to the squad but is awaiting another chance in the side.
The main beneficiary of Wyatt’s demotion has been Amy Jones, who again provided impetus at the top of the order as South Africa struggled with the conditions early on, although Jones will be disappointed that 29 remains her highest score in this format on home soil.
Looking to play straighter than they did at Worcester, Beaumont showed the form which won her the player of the tournament award at the World Cup. Taylor’s class with the bat has never been in doubt and she relished the chance to play on her home ground, having missed spells of cricket in the last couple of years while dealing with anxiety issues.
A score of 350 or more looked possible while Taylor and Beaumont took the hosts to 227-1 with 13 overs remaining. Taylor, though, was able to shepherd them past 300 to leave South Africa needing to complete the highest successful run chase in women’s ODI cricket.
The Proteas bowlers toiled as Shabnim Ismail was taken off after an uncomfortable first over up the hill, seamer Ayabonga Khaka struggled to find the impressive line and length she managed at Worcester, the spinners were expensive and only Marizanne Kapp was able to bowl with variations which troubled England in the final overs.
Ecclestone’s second spell is key
While a Proteas victory looked unlikely at the interval, it seemed even more improbable after Brunt and Anya Shrubsole kept their openers tied down in the first few overs.
It was only when England introduced spinners Sophie Ecclestone and Laura Marsh in tandem that Lee began peppering the Hove boundaries – even hoisting one six out of the ground – and her powerful hitting briefly allowed the visitors to dream of a record victory.
The return of Brunt and Shrubsole finally broke the opening stand of 142 and Sune Luus fell cheaply. After 31 overs, though, England’s strike pair only had five overs left between them, and Lee was still at the crease with the threat of a batting powerplay to come.
But after Georgia Elwiss celebrated her recall by removing Lee, captain Heather Knight’s trump card was the reintroduction of Ecclestone.
The teenager had been flogged for 30 from her first three overs, but bounced back to run through the Proteas’ middle order as Dane van Niekerk, Mignon du Preez and Tryon all holed out trying to hit against the spin while Ecclestone claimed 3-24 from her final seven overs.
And Tryon’s departure signalled the end of the match as a contest, setting up a decider in Canterbury on Friday.
‘It was like a runaway train’ – what they said
Player of the match Sarah Taylor on Sky Sports: “I grew up playing cricket here and it’s great to make a contribution. I think Tammy and I compliment each other well, we have a lot of fun and she brings out the best in me.
South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk on Sky Sports: “It was like a runaway train, we know the quality of Sarah and Tammy, we couldn’t execute our lines and lengths and they made us pay. You have to believe you can chase these scores down. We started believing but the middle order let the team down.”
Former England batter Lydia Greenway on BBC Test Match Special: “You had to be really disciplined as a bowler as anything overpitched was punished. England used their variations well, South Africa could have been a bit more proactive there as when Kapp took pace off the ball, it was difficult for England to score off her. Ismail coming up the hill was a waste, she’s one of the quickest bowlers in the world and she was taken off after her first over.”
Ex-England captain Charlotte Edwards on BBC Test Match Special: “Lee’s the sweetest timer of a cricket ball I’ve seen in a long time, but Wolvaardt struggles to rotate the strike and that puts the pressure on. And I can’t believe none of these T20 teams have signed Tryon!”