Cricket

Eoin Morgan was impressed that England managed to tailor their game to the surroundings in Port Elizabeth.

Eoin Morgan encouraged by England playing 'proper cricket' in South Africa win

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Eoin Morgan believes England proved they can play "proper cricket" in their five-wicket win over South Africa at Port Elizabeth.

Morgan's team, who have been a revelation with their big-hitting exploits in limited-overs matches since last winter's embarrassingly early World Cup exit, had to graft as they chased 262 for seven to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match one-day international series.

To borrow from the captain's own words, there was some "crash, bang, wallop" as Jos Buttler ensured no tight finish with three sixes and four fours from his 28 balls.

But before his unbeaten 48, in company with Moeen Ali, it was man-of-the-match Alex Hales who kept England on track only to fall a single short of what would have been his second ODI century.

Reece Topley's career-best four for 50, and some fine spin bowling from Moeen and Adil Rashid, had restricted the hosts - as well as a brilliant outfield catch from Chris Jordan to see the end of AB de Villiers for 73 just when the South Africa captain was threatening a late onslaught of his own.

After England's opening win in a Bloemfontein run-fest three days earlier, their all-round performance at St George's Park demonstrated very different and important qualities.

"It's hugely satisfying," said Morgan, after they had prevailed on a pitch which ensured an old-fashioned balance between bat and ball.

"In the last three series we've played, we've only played on a surface similar to that once.

"We came out of that challenge really well.

"The style of cricket we do play is great ... (but) today's performance showed we're not all crash, bang, wallop.

"We can play proper cricket."

England may be required to do so relatively infrequently, given the crowd-pleasing nature of many modern limited-overs pitches, b ut Morgan is nonetheless reassured to know they can if necessary.

"I said at the toss that adapting was probably going to be our biggest challenge today," he added. "We did it - which is great."

Opener Hales did much of the hard work in a 124-ball stay containing just four boundaries.

Buttler, who learned before start-of-play via the Indian Premier League auction that he was a ?385,000 Mumbai Indians acquisition, then provided the final thrust - with three successive sixes off Imran Tahir - to give England victory with almost four overs to spare.

"I thought the game was in the balance right up until that Tahir over," added Morgan.

"Then he (Buttler) just took the game by the scruff of the neck - which top-class players do."

There had been speculation that the Bangalore bidding might distract Buttler, and others, here.

But Morgan said: "We all got up this morning at breakfast and had a brief chat about it.

"Then that was about it for the day."

Hales deserved plaudits too, for toning down his attacking flair to suit the occasion, and Morgan duly supplied them.

He added: "Coming into this series, he would have been disappointed with the way he played in the Tests - but determined to prove how good a player he is.

"In the first two games of the series, he's done that already.

"He was class today, and didn't seem to take any risks - which allowed guys around him to take their natural risks, and that won us the game."

De Villiers rued his own departure, at a crucial time as South Africa tried to build momentum in the last 10 overs.

"Unfortunately, I got out at a bad time and a couple of dismissals later, we were in trouble," he said.

"So we actually did well to get to 260."

South Africa must win all remaining three matches if they are to take the series, and De Villiers will not be giving up just yet.

"I love the challenge - they're a good side," he said of England. "But they're not unbeatable.

"It's just a matter of us really getting it right, and taking our opportunities.

"Today again, we had the opportunity to take them down. But unfortunately, it didn't happen."

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