Rassie van der Dussen’s century helped South Africa spoil Ben Stokes’s farewell to one-day international cricket as the Proteas won by 62 runs on the England star’s Durham home ground to go 1-0 up in a three-match series.
Van der Dussen’s career-best 134 was the cornerstone of South Africa’s 335-5, their highest ODI total in England, and he also shared stands of 109 with opener Janneman Malan (57) and 151 with Aiden Markram, who made a stylish 77.
Test captain Stokes did not have a fairytale finish to a 50-over international cricket career that peaked with a player of the match display in England’s 2019 World Cup final triumph.
The struggling 31-year-old paceman took an expensive 0-44 in five overs amid searing heat, after being cheered by his loyal fans as he led England onto the field.
Stokes then made just five with the bat before he was lbw to off-spinner Markram having missed a reverse sweep.
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Joe Root, a close friend of Stokes since their days playing youth cricket, took up the charge with a run-a-ball fifty.
But a target of 103 off the last eight overs, with England already six wickets down, was too much even for Root.
The world’s top-ranked Test batsman was eventually bowled for an excellent 86 by express quick Anrich Nortje, who finished with 4-53 from 8.5 overs.
England openers Jason Roy (43) and Jonny Bairstow (63) had launched the 50-over world champions’ chase with a partnership of 102 in 19 overs.
But that stand ended when Roy, looking to loft Proteas captain Keshav Maharaj, chipped the left-arm spinner and David Miller, running round from long-off, held a good low catch.
Bairstow, having completed a 53-ball fifty, was reprieved when Lungi Ngidi dropped a routine chance at long leg only to be lbw soon afterwards on the sweep to Markram.
And after Markram snared Stokes, slow bowling proved the undoing of England captain Jos Buttler as well, with the dangerman caught and bowled for 12 by Tabraiz Shamsi after an inside edge onto his pad lobbed back low to the diving left-arm wrist-spinner.
Stokes had announced on Monday that this game would be his 105th and last match at this level, with the dynamic all-rounder saying the demands of a congested England fixture schedule meant he had to jettison ODIs in order to still give of his best in Tests and Twenty20s.
England, who lost the third ODI, and with it a three-match series, against India at Old Trafford on Sunday, gave a 50-over debut to Matthew Potts after the Durham seamer made an impressive Test bow against New Zealand last month.
– Potts falters in the heat –
But on a day where temperatures touched 37-degrees, Potts bowled just four overs before leaving the field due to the heat after Maharaj, skipper in place of the injured Temba Bavuma, had won the toss and unsurprisingly opted to bat first in this day/night match.
Following the early loss of Quinton de Kock, South Africa’s second-wicket duo were eventually separated when Malan holed out against off-spinner Moeen Ali.
But van der Dussen’s leg-glanced boundary off Curran saw him to a 90-ball hundred including nine fours. It was the 33-year-old’s third century in 36 ODIs and first against England.
Van der Dussen, dropped on 121 when Bairstow failed to hold a difficult low running chance at midwicket, went on to surpass his previous highest ODI score of 129 not out against India at Paarl in January this year. He was bowled by a Livingstone delivery that kept low two balls after the spinner dismissed Markram.
The series continues at Old Trafford on Friday.
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