Cricket

Ben Stokes hit three of England's record 15 sixes in Bloemfontein.

England stay on the front foot as second ODI looms

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England refuse to downsize their ambitions as they adapt to sea level for the second one-day international against South Africa.

They have swapped the 1400-metre altitude of Bloemfontein for St George's Park, a few blocks back from the Port Elizabeth coastline, as they target a 2-0 series lead on Saturday.

The ball kept travelling on the edge of the Highveld three days ago for a national record 15 sixes as England piled up 399 for nine - their highest overseas total, en route to a Duckworth-Lewis victory by 39 runs at the Mangaung Oval.

It extended a remarkable spike in a graph which contains five of England's seven all-time highest totals in the last eight months.

After 45 years of previous attempts, only twice before last June - and curiously, never away from Trent Bridge - had they reached 350.

But since their World Cup embarrassment last winter, England have caught on brilliantly to the modern tempo.

Ben Stokes, who hit 57 from 38 balls on Wednesday, credits coach Trevor Bayliss and his assistant Paul Farbrace for instilling the necessary self-belief and freedom in a talented squad.

"They've had a big influence on the way we're playing," he said, before practice at St George's Park for Saturday's second match of five.

"Since (last summer's series against) New Zealand started, we've played exactly the same way and always wanted to post big totals and be aggressive.

"When you've got coaches backing you to play this attacking brand of cricket it's a big help."

Stokes confirms too that England will not be letting up any time soon.

"I think Adil (Rashid) came in at nine - so when you bat as deep as we do, then we should be posting big scores," he said.

"That is how we want to play our cricket - and if we come off, then we're probably going to get totals like that more than not.

"We might have the odd game where we get bowled out for 260 or 270 going for that big score ... but 260 or 270 was a big score for England three or four years ago."

It might just be a winning score too this weekend, at a ground which has yielded only five totals above 300 in 36 matches.

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